A Travis County jury has ordered Alex Jones to pay over $4 million to the parents of 6-year-old Sandy Hook victim Jesse Lewis after the Infowars host called the elementary school massacre a “false flag” and a “hoax.”
Though the $4.1 billion award is significantly lower than the $150 million sought, the judgment is double the amount Jones said would bankrupt his empire, Law & Crime reported.
In emotional testimony on Tuesday, Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis detailed the anguish suffered by the still-grieving parents on account of the conspiracy theorist’s lies about the tragedy that took their son. While Heslin wept on the stand recalling memories of his child, Jones mocked the father live on his show – lending credibility to the parents’ claims that Jones’ half-hearted apology was “insincere.”
Scarlett Lewis, the mother of the murdered boy, addressed Jones directly during her testimony, criticizing his willful disregard for those still suffering over their loss a decade later.
“You are spreading lies and fear and falsehoods and deception and untruths. There is a truth, and I believe that you know it. It seems incredible that we have to implore you – to punish you – to get you to stop lying,” Lewis said from the witness stand.
Despite testimony on Wednesday that he believed the Sandy Hook shooting actually occurred, during much of the trial, Jones contradicted himself on his Infowars podcast – insulting the parents, the judge, the jury, and the case. Casting himself as a victim of attacks on free speech. Plaintiff attorney Kyle Farrar told the jury, “Speech is free, but you have to pay for your lies.”
Heslin testified to having both his home and vehicle “shot up,” as supporters of Jones shouted his name. Farrar added, “He made them live their lives in fear, fear of being harmed or murdered by people who follow the lies.”
Jone’s lawyer, Andino Reynal, dismissed Farrar’s argument, saying “Unfortunately, in a free society, there is risk associated with choice.”
In the first of three defamation verdicts to be rendered, punitive damages have yet to be decided. Under Texas law, the $4.1 million award is for “actual” damages that the family experienced.
Prior to the verdict, Farrar told the jury:
“Even if Alex Jones stops talking about it right now, it’s outrageous. It’s taken years to get to this point in front of you, for Neil to be able to tell you his story and Scarlett to be able to tell her story, years of fighting. Don’t compromise. The truth matters. It’s too important. Don’t compromise the truth […] Your verdict ends this fight and this nightmare for them.”
Mark Bankston, another attorney for the plaintiffs, surprised Jones and the courtroom when he revealed being in possession of two years of the Infowars host’s text messages. The texts proved not only that Jones lied on the stand, but likely will reveal conversations between him and parties under criminal investigation for their involvement in trying to overturn the 2020 election results in the planned coup on Jan. 6th.
The 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary took the lives of 20 children and six adults. The presiding judge, Maya Guerra Gamble, has said she will consider additional punishment for both Jones and his attorneys for their conduct in the courtroom, in addition to the actual and punitive damages that the jury will award.
Original reporting by Rob Copelan and Jonathan Randles at The Wall Street Journal.
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