September 27, 2022


  • A jury has found that Alex Jones must pay $4.1 million in damages to two parents whose son was killed in the Sandy Hook massacre.
  • Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis sued Jones for defamation over his false “hoax” claims about the 2012 shooting.
  • The jury’s final award is well below the $150 million sought by lawyers for Heslin and Lewis.

A Texas court has found that Infowars’ Alex Jones must pay $4.1 million in damages to two parents whose son was killed in the Sandy Hook massacre over the far-right conspiracy theorist’s repeated false claims that the mass shooting was a “hoax ».

Ten of 12 jurors in Jones’ defamation trial in Austin, Texas, awarded the money to Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, who was one of 26 killed in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012 . I run.

The jury deliberated for less than a day before returning its final verdict Thursday afternoon.

Jones, who testified during the more than week-long trial in his own defense, previously told the court that Infowars had revenue of $70 million last year, but that “any compensation over $2 million will sink us and we will close”.

Jones will now face the possibility of further punitive damages the jury could award the parents. Joshua Ritter, a Los Angeles-based criminal attorney, told Insider after the ruling that punitive damages, which as the name suggests are intended to punish the wrongdoer, could be much higher.

“If they get punitive damages, it could be five times” the $4 million in damages, Ritter said.

Heslin and Lewis sued Jones, the founder of Infowars, and his media company Free Speech Systems for defamation over his lies about the mass shooting that left 20 first-graders and six teachers dead.

Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy Last week.

The parents — who are among several Sandy Hook families suing Jones for defamation — had sought $150 million in damages for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress in the civil case, while Jones’ attorney asked the court to compel his client to don’t pay more than $8.

Both Heslin and Lewis testified during the trial that they endured years of torture, harassment and death threats from Jones who repeatedly told his audience that the Sandy Hook shooting was a “gigantic hoax” staged by the government with “crisis actors”.

Neil Heslin, the father of Sandy Hook shooting victim Jesse Lewis, 6, becomes emotional during his testimony in the trial of Alex Jones on August 2, 2022.

Neil Heslin, the father of Sandy Hook shooting victim Jesse Lewis, 6, becomes emotional during his testimony in the trial of Alex Jones on August 2, 2022.

Briana Sanchez/Pool via REUTERS


Heslin told the court that Jones made his life a “living hell” as a result of Jones’ “negligence and recklessness” “and the propaganda he did for his own profits and success”.

“Alex is the one with the match that started the fire,” said Heslin, who testified he was shot at his home.

Lewis said the harassment she received from Jones’ fans made her feel like a “victim.”

“It’s fear for your life,” Lewis told the court, which heard how the mother sleeps with a gun, knife and pepper spray next to the bed.

Jones led a decade-long “massive campaign of lies” about the deadliest school shooting in United States history and “recruited wild extremists from the fringes of the Internet who were willing to be as violent as Mr. Jones needed them to be.” , a lawyer said the parents during his opening statements in the case.

The Austin-based founder and host of Infowars has already been found vicariously liable by a Texas court and a Connecticut court for its depiction of the rampage. Judges ruled against Jones last year after he failed to turn over court-ordered documents and financial records.

Scarlett Lewis, mother of 6-year-old Sandy Hook shooting victim Jesse Lewis, testifies against Alex Jones in Texas on August 2, 2022.

Scarlett Lewis, mother of 6-year-old Sandy Hook shooting victim Jesse Lewis, testifies against Alex Jones in Texas on August 2, 2022.

Briana Sanchez/Austin American-Statesman via AP, Pool


Jones — who attended only part of the trial and even broadcast throughout the case — testified Wednesday that he realizes his messages about the Sandy Hook shooting were irresponsible.

“Especially since I’ve met the parents. It’s 100 percent real,” Jones said of the Sandy Hook massacre.

Jones added, “I do recognize that I unwittingly took part in things that hurt these people’s feelings, and I’m sorry for that.”

While on the witness stand, Jones tried to downplay Infowars’ coverage of the Sandy Hook massacre, saying it was “less than 1/10th of a percent” over a six-year period.

The trial took a strange turn during Jones’ testimony when a lawyer for Heslin and Lewis revealed in court that Jones’ defense attorney “messed up” and sent him a digital copy of Jones’ cellphone.

Jones’ phone transcript showed a text about the Sandy Hook massacre that Jones claimed did not exist, as well as financial information about Infowars that Jones did not turn over when testifying in that case.

“That’s how I know you lied to me when you said you didn’t have messages about Sandy Hook,” plaintiff Mark Bankston told Jones.

During his closing arguments, Jones’ defense attorney, F. Antino Reynal, argued that his client “ran with a story and made a mistake.”

“He trusted the wrong people. He was going through a difficult time in his life and he ran with a story that turned out to be false,” Reynal told the jury. “This mistake was weaponized by the same political forces that descended on Sandy Hook.”

Reynal argued that “zero evidence is worth minimal damages” and said the jury should award the parents the least amount possible: $8.

In his closing argument, one of the attorneys for the Sandy Hook family, Kyle Farrar, asked jurors, “what did it mean for Jones to steal their last memory to sell more products?”

Farrar insisted Wednesday that the parents deserved $150 million in total damages from Jones.

“Obviously we’re still living in this Alex Jones conspiracy world – where you elected the clerk and the judge is the deep state. Because that’s the conspiracy theory that Alex Jones wants to tell people when they have to pay,” Farrar said . “This verdict is your weapon to right a grave wrong.”

The trial is the first of three in which jurors will determine how much Jones must pay restitution to the Sandy Hook families.



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