(AUSTIN, Texas) — A Texas jury on Thursday ordered conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay more than $4 million in damages to the parents of a 6-year-old boy killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, marking the first time the Infowars host has been held financially responsible for repeatedly claiming that the deadliest school shooting in US history was a hoax.
The jury in Austin is still out on how much Hosted by Infowars must pay punitive damages to Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewiswhose son Jesse Lewis was among the 20 children and six educators who were killed in the 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut.
The parents were looking for at least $150 million in damages for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Jones’ lawyer asked the jury to cap the award at $8 — one dollar for each of the compensatory fees they’re considering — and Jones himself has said that any award above $2 million “is going to sink us.”
It likely won’t be the last conviction against Jones for his claims that the attack was staged in the interest of increasing gun control. A Connecticut judge ruled against him in a similar lawsuit filed by the families of other victims and an FBI agent who worked on the case.
The Texas award could set a marker for other lawsuits against Jones and underscores the financial threat he faces. It also raises new questions about the ability of Infowars — which was banned by YouTube, Spotify and Twitter for hate speech — to continue operating, even as the company’s finances remain unclear.
Jones admitted during the trial that the attack was real and that he was wrong to lie about it. But Heslin and Lewis told jurors that an apology would not be enough and urged them to make Jones pay for the years of suffering he put them and other Sandy Hook families through.
Jones’ media company Free Speech Systems, which is the parent company of Infowars, filed for bankruptcy during the two-week process.
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