Infowars host Alex Jones must pay the parents of a Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim $4.1 million in damages, a jury in Texas decided Thursday, as Jones faces several lawsuits for falsely claiming the tragedy that killed 20 elementary schoolers did not occur.
Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, whose child Jesse was killed in the 2012 Connecticut shooting, had asked jurors to award $150 million, after filing a lawsuit claiming Jones had defamed them and intentionally inflicted emotional distress.
The family was awarded $4.1 million in compensatory damages, and a separate trial is expected to be held to award punitive damages.
Jones said at one point in the trial that any penalty above $2 million would “sink” Infowars.
What To Watch For
The punitive portion of the trial will focus on the net worth of Jones and Infowars.
Jones acknowledged during the trial that he believes the Sandy Hook massacre that left 20 children and six school staffers dead is “100% real,” after long promoting conspiracy theories on his radio show suggesting the shooting was a hoax, comments the parents said have caused years of distress. The trial was considered a model for how other cases against Jones might proceed—a Connecticut judge has held Jones liable in a similar defamation case brought by other families. Judge Maya Guerra Gamble of Austin, Texas, found Jones liable by default last year after he spent four years refusing to turn over financial records and other documents to the court, but jurors deliberated this week in the damages portion of his trial.
The Texas trial was marked by bizarre happenings both inside and out of the courtroom. The biggest bombshell came Wednesday, when plaintiffs’ attorney Mark Bankston revealed Jones’ lawyers had accidentally sent him two years’ worth of Jones’ cell phone records. Bankston accused Jones of perjury, presenting numerous texts and emails on Jones’ phone in which he mentioned Sandy Hook, after Jones testified under oath that he could not find any texts mentioning Sandy Hook and asserted that he does not use email. Jones also said on his radio show this week that he believes the judge in the case and the plaintiffs’ attorneys are “demonically possessed.”