By JIM VERTUNO
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas jury on Friday ordered conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to the parents of a child who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, adding to the $4.1 million he must pay for the suffering he put them through by claiming for years that the nation’s deadliest school shooting was a hoax.
The total — $49.3 million — is less than the $150 million sought by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis was among the 20 children and six educators killed in the 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut. But the trial marks the first time Jones has been held financially liable for peddling lies about the massacre, claiming it was faked by the government to tighten gun laws.
Afterward, Lewis said that Jones — who wasn’t in the courtroom to hear the verdict — has been held accountable. She said when she took the stand and looked Jones in the eye, she thought of her son, who was credited with saving lives by yelling “run” when the killer paused in his rampage.
“He stood up to the bully Adam Lanza and saved nine of his classmates’ lives,” Lewis said. “I hope that I did that incredible courage justice when I was able to confront Alex Jones, who is also a bully. I hope that inspires other people to do the same.”
It could be a while before the plaintiffs collect anything. Jones’ lead attorney, Andino Reynal, told the judge he will appeal and ask the courts to drastically reduce the size of the verdict.
After the hearing, Reynal said he thinks the punitive amount will be reduced to as little as $1.5 million.
’We think the verdict was too high. … Alex Jones will be on the air today, he’ll be on the air tomorrow, he’ll be on the air next week. He’s going to keep doing his job holding the power structure accountable.”
Jones’ companies and personal wealth could also get carved up by other lawsuits and bankruptcy. Another defamation lawsuit against Jones by a Sandy Hook family is set to start pretrial hearings in the same Austin court on Sept. 14. He faces yet another defamation lawsuit in Connecticut.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Mark Bankston said he believes he can challenge any attempt to reduce the damages. But he said even if the award is drastically cut, it’s just as important to take the big verdict into the bankruptcy court for the family to claim against Jones’ estate and company.
Jones testified this week that any award over $2 million would “sink us.” His company Free Speech Systems, which is Infowars’ Austin-based parent company, filed for bankruptcy protection during the first week of the trial.
Punitive damages are meant to punish defendants for particularly egregious conduct, beyond monetary compensation awarded to the individuals they hurt. A high punitive award is also seen as a chance for jurors to send a wider societal message and a way to deter others from the same abhorrent conduct in the future.
Barry Covert, a Buffalo, New York, First Amendment lawyer with no connection to the Jones case, said the total damages awarded amount to “a stunning loss for Jones.”
“With $50 million in all, the jury has sent a huge, loud message that this behavior will not be tolerated,” Covert said. “Everyone with a show like this who knowingly tells lies — juries will not tolerate it.”
Future jurors in other pending Sandy Hook trials could see the damages amounts in this case as a benchmark, Covert said. If other juries do, Covert said, “it could very well put Jones out of business.”
Attorneys for the family had urged jurors to hand down a financial punishment that would force Infowars to shut down.
“You have the ability to stop this man from ever doing it again,” Wesley Ball, an attorney for the parents, told the jury Friday. “Send the message to those who desire to do the same: Speech is free. Lies, you pay for.”
An economist testified that Jones and the company are worth up to $270 million.
Bernard Pettingill, who was hired by the plaintiffs to study Jones’ net worth, said records show that Jones withdrew $62 million for himself in 2021, when default judgments were issued in lawsuits against him.
“That number represents, in my opinion, a value of a net worth,” Pettingill said. “He’s got money put in a bank account somewhere.”
But Jones’ lawyers said their client had already learned his lesson. They argued for a punitive amount of less than $300,000.
“You’ve already sent a message. A message for the first time to a talk show host, to all talk show hosts, that their standard of care has to change,” Reynal said.
Friday’s damages drew praise from the American Federation of Teachers union, which represented the teachers at Sandy Hook.
“Nothing will ever fix the pain of losing a child, or of watching that tragedy denied for political reasons. But I’m glad the parents of Sandy Hook have gotten some justice,” union President Randi Weingarten said in a tweet.
Lawyers for the Sandy Hook families suing Jones contend he has tried to hide evidence of his true wealth in various shell companies.
During his testimony, Jones was confronted with a memo from one of his business managers outlining a single day’s gross revenue of $800,000 from selling vitamin supplements and other products through his website, which would approach nearly $300 million in a year. Jones called it a record sales day.
Jones, who has portrayed the lawsuit as an attack on his First Amendment rights, conceded during the trial that the attack was “100% real” and that he was wrong to have lied about it. But Heslin and Lewis told jurors that an apology wouldn’t suffice and called on them to make Jones pay for the years of suffering he has put them and other Sandy Hook families through.
The parents told jurors they’ve endured a decade of trauma, inflicted first by the murder of their son and what followed: gunshots fired at a home, online and phone threats, and harassment on the street by strangers. They said the threats and harassment were all fueled by Jones and his conspiracy theory spread to his followers via Infowars.
A forensic psychiatrist testified that the parents suffer from “complex post-traumatic stress disorder” inflicted by ongoing trauma, similar to what might be experienced by a soldier at war or a child abuse victim.
Throughout the trial, Jones was his typically bombastic self, talking about conspiracies on the witness stand, during impromptu news conferences and on his show. His erratic behavior is unusual by courtroom standards, and the judge scolded him, telling him at one point: “This is not your show.”
The trial drew attention from outside Austin as well.
Bankston told the court Thursday that the U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol has requested records from Jones’ phone that Jones’ attorneys had mistakenly turned over to the plaintiffs. Bankston later said he planned to comply with the committee’s request.
By Friday, Bankston said, he had “a subpoena sitting on my desk’ from the Jan. 6 committee. But he said he needed to “tamp down expectations” that it might reveal texts about the insurrection since it appears to have been scraped for data in mid-2020.
Bankston said he’s also had “law enforcement” interest in the phone data, but he declined to elaborate.
Last month, the House committee showed graphic and violent text messages and played videos of right-wing figures, including Jones, and others vowing that Jan. 6 would be the day they would fight for Trump.
The committee first subpoenaed Jones in November, demanding a deposition and documents related to his efforts to spread misinformation about the 2020 election and a rally on the day of the attack.
Associated Press writer Michael Tarm in Chicago and Susan Haigh in Norwich, Connecticut, contributed to this report.
Find AP’s full coverage of the Alex Jones trial at: https://apnews.com/hub/alex-jones
[96MAAQ] Send Steam Wallet Money to a Friend and Nintendo Eshop Codes No Survey No Download
Free Tiktok Followers Generator and Fake Tiktok Followers Check and Pntbxx
Free Fortnite V-bucks Generator and Fortnite Vbucks
NCKCH Paysafecard Promotion Code and Gift Cards Paysafecard
Free Fortnite V-bucks Generator and Fortnite Vbuck Shop and 5z52fd
Free Fortnite V-bucks Generator and Fortnite Free Items Codes and Jel6yb
Free Fortnite V-bucks Generator and Vbucksfr
Free PSN Gift Cards PSN and Free Gift Cards for PSN and Gift Card Generator
Free Fortnite V-bucks Generator and Vbucks 1 Site and W6mt6y
can you send money to your bank account from cash app for free, make money free cash app apk editor and free money cash app review
[974A0I] Australia Itunes Gift Card Codes and Game Used Cards
Free Gift Cards Codes Xbox 360, How to Get Free Xbox Gift Cards 2022 No Survey and Get Free Xbox Gift Cards 2022
make free money on cash app, referral code how to get free money on cash app and cash app glitch free money
Free Fortnite V-bucks Generator and Fortnite
Free Tiktok Followers Generator and Social Wick and 36yfe0
get money free cash app, get free money now cash app and make money and free cash app mod apk
can u really get free money on cash app, free money promo codes cash app and how can u get free money on cash app
Paysafecard 25 Lei Gratuit and Www
WH1TU Paysafecard Code Free and Free Paysafecard Codes No Download
Free Psc and Paysafe Gift Card
Free Fortnite V-bucks Generator and Fortnite Skin Codes and Kgaieu
Free Xbox Gift Cards, Xbox Gift Cards Free and Free Xbox Gift Cards Codes 2022
List of Free 10$ Gift Cards Xbox One Usa, Xbox Gift Cards Free No Generator and Unused Free Xbox Gift Cards 2022
Xbox One Free Gift Cards No Survey, Free Xbox Gift Cards 2022 No Offers No Scams No Surveys and Free Xbox Gift Cards No Survey No Human Verification No Offers 2022
How to Get Free Xbox Gift Cards without Human Verification, Xbox 100 Dollar Gift Cards Free Valid and Free Xbox Gift Cards Crystal Digger
Earn Free PSN Gift Cards and Free Gift Cards PSN
cash app money free money, how to add money to cash app for free and referral code for make money free cash app
Paysafecard Free Pin Codes and Free Psc Codes
free instant cash app money, how do i get free money on cash app and how to get free cash app money without human verification
Free Gift Cards for PSN Store and Gift Cards PSN Free
Free Xbox Gift Cards Youtube, Free Xbox Gift Cards without Human Verification and Free Xbox Gift Cards 2022 No Human Verification
[FMB6NV] Wii U Free Eshop Codes and Code Nintendo
Free Fortnite V-bucks Generator and Fnco
[W5LG4X] Free Nintendo Codes and Eshop Card Email Delivery
free money code for cash app, free money on cash app no verification and how to hack cash app free money
[Q0MK35] Switch Codes and Free Nintendo
How to Get Free PSN Gift Cards Fast and Free Gift Cards for PSN Mod Apk
free cash app money hack, get free cash app money legit and get free money on cash app 2022
cash app give me free money, free cash app money legit generator and youtube cash app free money
Free Tiktok Followers Generator and Apps to Gain Tiktok Followers and Eejeyp
Free Xbox 5$ Gift Cards, Free Xbox Live Gift Cards No Surveys 2022 and How to Get Free Gift Cards on Xbox 360
Free Fortnite V-bucks Generator and Fortnite Pixaxes and Xqq33m