Alex Jones to pay $4.1 million to parents of Sandy Hook victim
A Texas jury on Thursday ordered conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay more than $4 million in compensatory damages to the parents of a 6-year-old boy killed in the Sandy Hook massacre, far less than the $150 million sought, He finally has been held financially liable for again and again claiming the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history was a hoax.
The Austin jury is still deliberating on how much the Infowars host should pay in punitive damages to Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse Lewis was among the 20 children and six educators killed in the Newtown, Connecticut, attack in 2012.
Heslin filed a defamation and emotional distress lawsuit against Jones in 2018 for the untruths he popularized on his online radio show, including that the shooting was staged by the government to enact gun control legislation.
The jury reached its verdict in just barely a day, with 10 of the 12 jurors agreeing.
Both Heslin and Lewis have been awarded $1.5 million for intentional infliction of emotional distress and $500,000 for future infliction of emotional distress by the jury. Heslin was also awarded $50,000 for past reputational harm and mental anguish. Heslin was also awarded ten thousand dollars for future reputation damage.
Judge Maya Guerra Gamble of the Travis County District Court dismissed the jurors for the day however, instructing them they were still under her orders not to discuss the case or read the news. The jury will decide whether to award punitive damages to Jones and his business, Free Speech Systems LLC. One witness, an economist who was retained by the plaintiffs to determine Jones and Free Speech System’s net value, will begin testifying before the jury on Friday.
Expert Bernard Pettingill, a forensic economist, testified in court on Friday that Alex Jones started paying $11,000 a day into a purported shell business once it was determined that he slandered Sandy Hook parents. In his testimony, forensic economist Bernard Pettingill stated that Jones’ lack of knowledge made it difficult to determine his value. He calculated that Jones, and his company Free Speech Systems are worth between $135 million and $270 million, and InfoWars grossed $64 million last year. Free Speech Systems declared bankruptcy last week, but Pettingill claimed Jones’ $53 million debt to himself makes it appear as though he is in serious financial trouble when he is not.