Alex Jones has been ordered to pay $4.1 million to the parents of a Sandy Hook victim after claiming the massacre was a hoax and that he could not pay anything over $2 million.
A 12-person jury in Austin, Texas, reached the verdict on Thursday on how much the conspiracy theorist owed Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse Lewis, 6, was among the 26 killed in the massacre.
The parents had sought at least $150 million dollars in compensation for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress for all the damage and harm his lies have caused them over the span of a decade.
Jones’ attorney asked the jury to limit damages to $8 — one dollar for each of the compensation charges they are considering — and Jones himself said any award over $2 million ‘would sink us.’
Alex Jones has been ordered to pay $4.1 million to the parents of Sandy Hook victims after Thursday’s verdict
Neil Heslin (left) and Scarlett Lewis (right), parents of Sandy Hook victim Jesse Lewis, 6, said their family’s life had been turned to a ‘living hell’ after Alex Jones spread conspiracy theories about the massacre
Jones said any award over $2 million ‘would sink us’ as the family of the victims sought $150 million against the Infowars host for the damage he caused them
It marks the first time the Infowars host has been held financially liable for repeatedly claiming the deadliest school shooting in US history was a hoax.
The Texas award could set a marker for other cases against Jones and underlines the financial threat he is facing.
It also raises new questions about the ability of Infowars — which has been banned from YouTube, Spotify and Twitter for hate speech — to continue operating, although the company’s finances remain unclear.
Jones, 48, conceded during the trial that the attack was real and that he was wrong to have lied about it.
But Heslin and Lewis told jurors that an apology would not suffice and called on them to make Jones pay for the years of suffering he has put them and other Sandy Hook families through.
Jones’ media company Free Speech Systems, which is Infowars’ parent company, filed for bankruptcy during the two-week trial.
On Wednesday, the accountant who oversees Free Speech Systems’ finances testified that Jones withdrew $62 million dollars from the company over the last 14 years and that $9 million in cryptocurrency donations to Infowars ‘went directly to Mr. Jones.’
The verdict comes a day after Sandy Hook lawyer Mark Bankston revealed that Jones’ lawyers had sent him two years worth of emails and text messages that they testified didn’t exist
F. Andino Reynal, the attorney representing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in his defamation trial, flipped his middle finger at plaintiff lawyer Mark Bankston during a heated argument
A separate, shorter trial to discuss punitive damages will be discussed following the jury’s verdict. The damages are awarded when the court finds the defendant’s behavior to be especially offensive.
During the final days of the trial, the Infowars host got into a row with the family’s attorney, with Jones’ lawyer F. Andino Reynal flipping off Bankston in court.
On Tuesday, Jones once again argued with Bankston and his team,
accused the lawyers of feeding the jury ‘fake videos’ during the trial, causing one of the attorneys to lash out against him.
‘Oh shut your mouth,’ the lawyer told Jones as he walked away.
Jones responded: ‘That’s what you’re trying to do, shut my mouth, you’ll never succeed.’
Then on Wednesday, Jones appeared shocked as he was told his lawyers had accidentally handed over hundreds of text messages by mistake after testifying that they did not exist.
The Infowars host squirmed in his seat after confirming his phone number was linked to the texts, after previously declaring under oath at the defamation hearing that there were no messages about Sandy Hook on his phone.
Jones called it their ‘Perry Mason’ moment during the trial, with Jones being accused of perjuring himself while giving evidence.
He previously testified that he was unable to find any emails regarding the Sandy Hook massacre, and was shocked when one was shown on screen to the court.
Judge Maya Guerra Gamble instructed the jury that the entire contents of the phone was ‘not properly turned over when it should have been’.
Jesse, 6, was one of the 26 victims shot and killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School
Jones repeatedly claimed that the 2012 massacre, which left 20 students and six teachers dead, was a ‘hoax’ and had been ‘staged’
Aside from the hearing over punitive damages, Wednesday’s verdict brings a close to the four-year court saga between Jones and Heslin and Lewis over his claims that the grieving parents were crisis actors.
Both parents broke down during the final day of testimony on Tuesday as they confronted Jones over his lies and the harassment they faced for 10 years from those who believed the claims Jones made on Infowars.
Heslin and Lewis both said they fear for their lives and have been confronted by strangers at home and on the street after Jones spread conspiracy theories about them.
Heslin said his home and car have been shot at as the jury also heard a death threat sent on the phone to another Sandy Hook family.
‘I can’t even describe the last nine and a half years, the living hell that I and others have had to endure because of the recklessness and negligence of Alex Jones,’ Heslin said.
Jones has claimed the trial is a way for others to attack his Freedom of Speech. Pictured: Jones arrived in Texas court for his defamation trial with a piece of tape over his mouth that read ‘Save the 1st’ Amendment
In a gripping exchange, Lewis spoke directly to Jones, who was sitting about 10 feet away. Earlier that day, Jones was on his broadcast program telling his audience that Heslin is ‘slow’ and being manipulated by bad people.
‘I am a mother first and foremost and I know you are a father. My son existed,’ Lewis told Jones. ‘I am not deep state… I know you know that… And yet you´re going to leave this courthouse and say it again on your show.’
At one point, Lewis asked Jones: ‘Do you think I’m an actor?’
‘No, I don’t think you’re an actor,’ Jones responded before the judge admonished him to be quiet until called to testify.
Jones has previously been ordered to pay tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees to the nine families of Sandy Hook victims who have sued him over the years.
Another trial over damages awarded is expected to start in September, in Connecticut, after families of the victims won a default judgment against Jones.