Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was ordered to pay $4.1 million to the parents of a child killed in the Sandy Hook massacre for repeatedly claiming the shooting was a hoax.
The far-right radio host and Infowars webcaster, 48, has been sued by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, who lost their six-year-old son, Jesse Lewis, in the 2012 atrocity, when 20 students and six staff were gunned down.
Jones used his media platform to spread lies about the tragedy to millions of listeners, claiming it was staged by actors in a media “false flag” plot and activists to increase gun control.
At the end of a two-week trial in Austin, Texas, a jury ordered the conspiracy theorist to pay $4.1 million in compensatory damages and will now consider adding punitive damages to Jones’ account.
The parents’ attorney Mark Bankston said Jones “will not sleep soundly tonight” following the jury’s verdict, saying they are “thrilled with the outcome and eager to put Jones’ money to good use.”
They gave evidence during the trial that Jones’ followers harassed them for years after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, sending death threats in the false belief that they were lying about their son’s death.
“I can’t even describe the last nine and a half years, the hell that I and others have had to endure because of Alex Jones’ recklessness and negligence,” Heslin said during his testimony.
Lewis told Jones directly, “It sounds so incredible to me that we have to do this – that we have to beg you to stop lying.”
When it was his turn to take the witness stand, Jones acknowledged that he had spread misinformation, saying the shooting was “100% real”.
He claims he was suffering from a form of psychosis and told jurors it was “crazy” of him to claim the shooting was a hoax. However, he denied responsibility for the actions of those who harass parents.
Jones was repeatedly admonished by Judge Maya Guerra Gamble for not telling the truth in court about his financial situation and complying with legal process.
“You’re already under oath to tell the truth, you’ve already violated that oath twice today,” she told him.
“It seems absurd to instruct you again that you must tell the truth as a witness, but here I am. You must tell the truth as a witness. This is not your show.”
In a dramatic moment during Jones’ interrogation, it was revealed that his legal team had accidentally delivered two text messages from the conspiracy theorist.
Bankston used them to challenge Jones on his claim that he had no messages referencing Sandy Hook, and at one point asked the radio host, “You know what perjury is, right?”
The Congressional committee investigating the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill is now seeking access to Jones’ messages to see if there was contact between the far-right provocateur and President Donald Trump’s staff.
Infowars’ parent company, Free Speech Systems LLC, was declared bankrupt last week in a bid to protect the organization from the impact of lawsuit damage and stay afloat.
The jury is due to return to court on Friday to hear more evidence on whether punitive damages should be imposed on Jones.