Jurors in Texas has sentenced Alex Jones, a far-right conspiracy theorist, to pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to the parents of a Sandy Hook school shooting victim. Even after Jones was found liable for defamation for his statements that the shooting was “a hoax,” the same jury the day before had given the family $4.1 million in compensatory damages.
One year after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis of Newtown, Connecticut, sued Jones and his media company, Free Speech Systems. Their 6-year-old son Jesse was one of the 20 children and six adults were slain. In the beginning, the couple sought damages of at least $150 million.
An emotional week and a half of testimony in the trial by Heslin and Lewis on the impact Jones’ bogus statements have had on their lives led to this decision.
During her evidence on Tuesday, Heslin described the abuse she and her husband had to undergo for the past nine and a half years as “the living hell that I and others have had to experience due to the recklessness and negligence of Alex Jones.” The two said they had received threatening emails, as well as shots fired at their home and automobile.
“Jesse was real. I am a real mom, “Lewis said to Jones during her testimony. “…I know you know that, and that’s the problem.” Jones’s response was a sigh and a shake of the head. “I know you believe me,” she said. “And yet you’re going to leave this court house and you’re going to say it again on your show.”
Host of “Infowars” criticized two more damages trials for falsely claiming the shooting had been faked in testimony, but admitting it was “100 percent real” and called the court “kangaroo court.” As of Friday, the plaintiffs’ economist, Bernard Pettingill, estimated Jones and his company to be worth up to $270 million. Pettingill claimed that documents show Jones took $62 million out of the bank in 2021 after default judgments were entered against him in legal proceedings.
BREAKING: Jury awards parents of #SandyHook victim Jesse Lewis:
“That number represents, in my opinion, a value of a net worth,” Pettingill said. “He’s got money put in a bank account somewhere.” According to Pettingill, who has testified in more than 1,500 cases over the course of his career, the money flowing into Jones’ companies eventually finds its way to him.
“He is a very successful man,” Pettingill said, calling Jones a “maverick” and a “revolutionary” for finding ways to make money from his online messaging.
Jones told jurors earlier this week that any award beyond $2 million would “sink us.” Jones remained in the courtroom briefly on Friday but left before Pettingill’s testimony. The parent firm of Infowars, Free Speech Systems, filed for federal bankruptcy protection a week ago.
The relatives of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting are suing Jones in two more cases, one in Texas and one in Connecticut. Jones has already received default judgments from the judges in each of these instances. Stay tuned with us only on Lee Daily
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