Infowars magnate Alex Jones has been ordered by a Texas jury to pay more than $4 million in damages to the family of a 6-year-old boy killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
The Austin jury decision marks the first time that Alex Jones had been ordered to pay compensatory damages for falsely saying that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax and that the parents were crisis actors. The jury must still decide how much Jones will have to pay Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis in punitive damages, which could be well over $100 million.
“The parents had sought at least $150 million in compensation for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress,” according to the Associated Press. “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.’”
Mark Bankston, the attorney representing Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, said outside the courtroom that the parents were not disappointed in the $4.11 million in compensatory damages and expected more when the jury decided on punitive damages.
“We aren’t done folks,” Bankston said. “We knew coming into this case it was necessary to shoot for the moon to get the jury to understand we were serious and passionate. After tomorrow, he’s going to owe a lot more.”
The Austin jury will return Friday to hear more about Jones and his company finances. Jones maintains that he is bankrupt while his financial situation still remains in doubt.
Jones still faces pending defamation suits in the state of Connecticut that were brought forward by other Sandy Hook families and an FBI agent who worked the case.
During the Texas trial, Jones conceded that the Sandy Hook massacre was “100% real” and that he should not have claimed it was a hoax.
“I unintentionally took part in things that did hurt these people’s feelings,” said Jones, “and I’m sorry for that.”
Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis told the jury this week that an apology from Jones will not suffice, arguing that his claims put them through years of pain and trauma following the murder of their six-year-old son, Jesse Lewis. Among other claims, the parents said Jones’ claims led to strangers harassing them on the street, a deluge of death threats, and even gunshots fired on their home.
“It seems so incredible to me that we have to do this — that we have to implore you, to punish you — to get you to stop lying,” Lewis told Jones in the courtroom.