Alex Jones ordered to pay additional $45.2 million in punitive damages to Sandy Hook parents
WATERBURY, CT (WFSB) – Known conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was ordered to pay an additional $45.2 million in punitive damages to the families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
That same jury already awarded $4.1 million in compensatory damages on Thursday.
The jury came to that verdict minutes ago after deliberating for over five hours.
The conservative talk show host claimed multiple times the 2012 school shooting in Newtown that left 26 people dead was not real.
Friday, the jury heard evidence about Jones’ financial standing and will decide if he’ll pay punitive damages.
The parents of 6 year old Jesse Lewis had sued jones saying their lives had been put in danger because his followers threatened them believing him when he said they were actors and that their son never existed.
Tonight, Jesse Lewis’ mother tweeted her thoughts following the verdict.
“You speak with one voice but you are individuals. Never give up, never surrender your own firmly held beliefs,” said Andino Reynal, Attorney for Alex Jones.
That was the message to the jury from Jones attorney in court Friday.
Wes Ball, the attorney for Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, also had one final statement. He said while speech may be free, lies you must pay for.
“We ask that you send a very, very simple message. And that is stop Alex Jones. Stop the monetization of misinformation and lies,” said Ball.
“They can award double what the compensatory damages are so this time it could be $8.2 million,” said Attorney Ryan McGuigan, WFSB Legal Expert.
Jones claimed in testimony that a jury award of just $2 million would destroy him financially, but an economist testified Friday that Jones’ net worth is between $135 and $270 million.
“It averages 53.2 million dollars a year, but that is the starting point because we know from testimony that Alex Jones said that he can do 70 million,” said Bernard Pettingill Jr., forensic economist.
“Now what we’re going to have is a large award and then the question is going to be whether or not Mr. Jones could pay that award and where the pocket is going to be coming from,” said McGuigan. “That’s the next phase of this unfortunately so it seems this nightmare for the family will continue.”
After a brief delay, jury selection for his Connecticut court proceedings is scheduled to resume on Tuesday.
Channel 3 asked Connecticut Trial Attorney Joseph Burns what impact today’s verdict might have on this upcoming case.
“I think it means that we can expect some significant damages awarded in the Connecticut cases. Its clear that the Texas jury did not think very highly of Mr. Jones’ conduct toward the Newtown parents,” said Burns.
Even though Thursday was a win for the parents of Jessie Lewis, who died in the shooting, they said it will never erase what they’ve endured.
“I can’t even describe the last 9 and a half years of the living hell that I and others have had to endure because of the negligence and recklessness of Alex Jones,” said Neil Heslin, Jessie Lewis’s father.
The Infowars show host repeatedly claimed the shooting was staged.
On the witness stand, however, he flipped his narrative.
“It’s 100 percent real,” Jones said. “I think Sandy Hook happened and I think it’s a terrible event. "
The case marked the first time Jones was held financially liable for his infamously false claims.
Jones had said the massacre never happened and called the parents of the victims “crisis actors.” Prosecutors argued that he profited off his deep spread conspiracy theories.
A bombshell revelation rocked the proceedings this week when lawyers for the victim’s family revealed that Jones’s attorney accidentally sent them text messages Jones had previously denied existed.
“Mr. Jones, in discovery, you were asked, ‘do you have Sandy Hook text messages on your phone?’ And you said ‘no. Correct? You said that under oath,’” the prosecution’s attorney said.
“I was mistaken,” Jones replied. “I was mistaken. You got the messages right there.”
“You know what perjury is right?” the attorney continued.
At one point, an attorney for Jones asked jurors to award the parents of Jessie Lewis only $1.
Alex Jones was not in court for the verdict, but his attorney did comment on his client’s reaction.
“His reaction was that, you know, he’d been found guilty before he ever had a chance to defend this case on the merits the, you know, the first amendment is under siege and that he looks forward to continuing to fight for freedom of expression,” said Andino Reynal, Alex Jones’ Attorney.
Copyright 2022 WFSB. All rights reserved.