An Austin jury ruled Thursday that Infowars host Alex Jones must pay at least $4.1 million to the family of a 6-year-old boy killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting for the suffering he and his website caused them. spreading lies about the 2012 Massacre.
Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, whose son Jesse died along with 19 of his classmates and six teachers at the school in Newtown, Connecticut, had sought $150 million for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
An attorney for Jones, who has repeatedly suggested the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax, asked jurors to award Heslin and Lewis just $1.
The court was only asked to decide whether Jones, who has already been found liable by a judge for failing to hand over crucial evidence before the trial began, must also pay Jesse’s parents for the emotional distress and reputational damage caused by his false claims. The jury will also decide whether to award punitive damages. The committee will hear testimony on that issue Friday.
The trial included testimony from both the parents and Jones, who presented the lawsuit as an attack on his First Amendment rights. After filming, he claimed it was staged and featured crisis actors. He later admitted it happened.
His lawyer, Andino Reynal, argued that Jones paid for his mistake by losing millions of followers after he was removed from the social media platforms in 2018.
“He made a terrible mistake,” Reynal told jurors, referring to Jones. “This mistake was weaponized by the same political forces that had collapsed at Sandy Hook when it happened.”
As the jury deliberated Thursday, Reynal requested a mistrial because his team mistakenly sent the contents of Jones’ cell phone to attorneys for Heslin and Lewis. An attorney for Heslin and Lewis used some of the information Wednesday to point out inconsistencies in Jones’ testimony. The judge denied the request.
Heslin and Lewis testified Tuesday that Jones’ lies left them fearing for their lives and compounded their grief.
“To have a 6-year-old son get shot in front of his classroom is unbearable and you don’t think you’re going to survive and then have someone on top of that perpetuate a lie that it was a hoax, that it was a false flag,” Lewis said, speaking directly to Jones. during her deposition. “I don’t think you understand the fear you are perpetuating, not only in the victim’s family, but in our family, our friends and any survivors from this school.”
At the heart of the trial is a 2017 episode of NBC’s “Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly,” in which Heslin appeared and challenged Jones’ denial of the shooting. Heslin says in the episode, “I held my son with a bullet hole in his head.”
Jones and another Infowars host, Owen Sroyer, later suggested that Heslin had lied.
Heslin and Lewis are among several Sandy Hook families who have filed lawsuits against Jones alleging that his claims that the mass killing was a hoax led to years of abuse from his followers.