Austin, TX – “Infowars” host Alex Jones has been ordered by a Texas jury to pay out more than $4 million in damages to the family members of a six-year-old boy who was murdered in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.
The jury determined on Aug. 4 that Jones deserved to be held financially liable for his repeated claims that the horrific school shooting that left 20 first-graders and six staff members dead was a hoax, the Associated Press reported.
The jury ordered Jones to pay $4.1 million in compensatory damages to Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, the parents of six-year-old Jesse Lewis, and must still decide on a dollar figure for punitive damages.
Lewis and Heslin accused Jones of intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation and were seeking at least $150 million, the Associated Press reported.
Jones previously said that any award exceeding $2 million would “sink” him, according to the Associated Press.
His attorney, F. Andino Reynal, urged the jury to award a single dollar for each of the eight harms the court found him guilty of, for a grand total of just $8 in damages, The Texas Tribune reported.
The plaintiffs were previously awarded another $1.5 million due to sanctions imposed on Jones by the court while the lawsuit was pending, CNN reported.
“Infowars’” parent company, Free Speech Systems, filed for bankruptcy during the two-week trial, according to the Associated Press.
Avi Moshenberg, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, said that the reason the company was failing was because Jones had drained $62 million in assets from it over the past two years leading up to the trial, CNN reported.
“If you look at the bankruptcy filing, leading up to the declaration of bankruptcy, Alex Jones, the sole owner [of Free Speech Systems], took $62 million in draws in 2021 and 2022,” Moshenberg said. “Just straight up draws. That’s why the company has few assets.”
Jones admitted during the proceedings that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre – one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history – was indeed “100 percent real” and that he had lied about it being a hoax.
Jones repeatedly claimed on his Infowars broadcast and website that the federal government had faked the incident as a way to strip Americans of their gun rights, according to The Texas Tribune.
His followers responded by harassing the families of those who were murdered in the shooting, to include making death threats.
Heslin and Lewis previously said that their son heroically ran out into the hallway of his school when he heard the gunfire erupt, The Texas Tribune reported.
They said he confronted the gunman and yelled to his fellow classmates to run, resulting in nine children escaping to safety.
Heslin testified that the lies perpetuated by Jones “tarnished the honor and legacy” of his little boy and put Heslin in constant fear for the safety of himself and his family, CNN reported.
He said he could not “even begin to describe the last nine-and-a-half-years of hell” Jones caused.
Jones repeatedly attempted to paint himself as a victim during his testimony, claiming his identity had been “stolen” by the mainstream media who portrayed him as a “monster” for talking about the school massacre on his show, The Texas Tribune reported.
Mark Bankston, one of the attorneys representing Jesse Lewis’ parents, accused Jones on Wednesday of perjuring himself on the witness stand and presented him with several pieces of evidence after Jones’ own lawyers mistakenly sent two years’ worth of his cell phone contents to the plaintiffs’ attorneys, according to the paper.
Bankston said his clients were pleased with the jury’s decision, CNN reported.
“Having already secured $1.5 million in fines from Mr. Jones, the plaintiffs are now due $5.6 million that Alex Jones will have to pay them,” the attorney said.
“Neil and Scarlett are thrilled with the result and look forward to putting Mr. Jones’ money to good use,” he added. “Mr. Jones, on the other hand, will not sleep easy tonight. With punitive damages still to be decided and multiple additional defamation lawsuits pending, it is clear that Mr. Jones’ time on the American stage is finally coming to an end.”