Alex Jones on trial: Jury finds Infowars founder must pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to Sandy Hook’s parents

Plaintiffs Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis were awarded a total of just under $50 million in both damages and punitive damages. Of the total of $49.3 million, $45.2 million in punitive damages may be reduced due to Texas law.

“Attention and attention is very important and we’ve seen what happens when there’s a dearth of that, and so I hope we all go home tonight and everyone who reads these articles and hears this message and chooses love with your kids, because you can,” Lewis said Friday after learning of the jury’s decision . “It means being present in the moment with them, looking into their eyes, giving them a hug and moving from there. Just in every moment, realize that you have a choice and your choice is love.”

Jurors began deliberating around 12:30 p.m. Friday, after Judge Maya Guerra Gamble reminded them that in a hypothetical ruling against him, Jones had already been found liable for defamation and “deliberate infliction of emotional distress” against Lewis and Heslin.

In an emotional closing argument on Friday, Lewis and Heslin’s attorney Wesley Todd Ball told the jury, “We’re asking you to send a very simple message, which is, Stop Alex Jones. Stop monetizing misinformation and lies. Please.”

After the jury’s decision was announced in court, Jones’ attorney, Andino Renal, immediately raised the question of Texas law and the amount of punitive damages. After the lawsuit, he talked about it again while speaking out of court.

“We think the judgment was too high. As for punitive damages, Texas law set them at $750,000 per plaintiff, so today that judgment is up to $1.5 million in penalties. Alex Jones will be on the air today, he’ll be on the air tomorrow,” Renal said. After Court, “It’s going to air next week. It will continue to perform its function of accounting for the power structure. This is our only statement.

Judge Gamble acknowledged Rinal’s objection in court but did not immediately rule on it.

“We have laws in Texas where we pretend we trust our juries and then we don’t trust our juries, which is true,” Gamble said at the time. “And I’m sure the ruling will properly reflect Texas laws in this regard, so I don’t have to worry about that.”

CNN has reached out to the plaintiffs’ attorney for comment on Rinal’s argument.

During closing arguments, Paul urged the jury to “deter Alex Jones from doing this atrocity again” and “deter others who might wish to step into his place.”

Raynal argued for a much lower sum, suggesting that jurors should double Jones’ alleged hourly earnings of $14,000 and the 18 hours he said Jones talked about Sandy Hook on Infowars, for a sum of nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

On Thursday, in the first phase of the trial, The jury awarded the parents $4.1 million In damages, an amount far less than the $150 million requested by the parents’ attorneys. In his closing argument, Paul thanked the jury for their decision to award the $4.1 million, saying it had already made a huge difference in the parents’ lives, and asking them to provide enough punitive damages to bring the total to $150 million.
Bernard Pettingell will testify on August 5.

Punitive damages is a form of punishment for the defendant’s behaviour. Jones, the head of the conspiratorial media outlet Infowars, has repeatedly lied about the Sandy Hook massacre. It sparked conspiracy theories about the victims and their families, which led to multiple defamation lawsuits. He has since admitted that there was a shooting.

Jones claimed in his testimony that only the $2 million jury prize would ruin him financially. But Friday morning jurors heard testimony about Jones’ fortune from an economist, Bernard Pettingell Jr., who estimated Jones’ net worth at between $135 million and $270 million.

Pettingill, Jr. said: D., who examined several years of records from Free Speech Systems, parent of Jones and Infowars, said Jones used a series of shell companies to hide his money.

Pettingill, Jr. testified.

“Alex Jones knows where the money is, he knows where that money has gone, and he knows that he will ultimately benefit from that money,” Pettingell Jr. said.

After a juror asked about the difference between Jones’ money and his company’s money, Pettingill, Jr. “You can’t separate Alex Jones from companies. It’s companies.”

He added that Jones “monetized his technique,” even suggesting that Jones teach an undergraduate course on his techniques.

Jones’s fear-mongering statements on Infowars were, for many years, paired with advertisements for nutritional supplements, documentaries, and other products sold by Infowars. Pettingill, Jr. said: The money poured in, and he identified nine different companies Jones owned.

“He’s a very successful guy, he put out some hate speech and some disinformation, but he made a lot of money and turned that into cash,” Pettingael Jr. said on the platform. “My thinking about him is that he didn’t ride a wave, he created the wave.”

Jones testified earlier in the week about his alleged financial problems after social media giants like Facebook and Twitter banned his content from their platforms.

“I remember him saying that, but the records don’t reflect it,” Pettingill, Jr said.

During closing arguments, Paul asserted that Jones had more money stashed elsewhere, and argued that the $4.1 million was a drop in Jones’s proverbial bucket. “It’s possible he’s already made a comeback with donations” from fans, Paul said.