A jury in Texas as fined Alex Jones $45.2 million for his conspiracy theories surrounding the 2012 massacre of a Sandy Hook Elementary School schoolboy. Jesse Lewis, 6, was killed in a school attack in Newtown, Connecticut, with parents Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin asking the courts to award punitive damages of $150 million against Jones for his denial of their child’s killing.
The attorney for Lewis and Heslin, Wesley Ball, noted that although a judgment of $4.1 million had initially been awarded against Jones, the court needed to award punitive damages to serve as a deterrent. Ball also asked that the court remove Jones’ speaking platform to ultimately prevent him from spreading lies about people and situations.
“I ask that with your verdict, you not only take Alex Jones’ platform that he talks about away,” Ball requested. “I ask that you make sure that he can’t rebuild the platform. That’s what matters. That is punishment; that is deterrence.”
Representing the Infowars host, attorney Andino Reynal, argued that the $4.1 million judgment against Jones would deter people from holding corrupt government officials to account. He also contended that Texas law caps punitive award at $750,000 per plaintiff and that Lewis and Heslin ought to be awarded a maximum of $1.5 million, and not $4.1 million. But Judge Maya Guerra Gamble said she will rule on that objection later.
“We think the verdict was too high,” Reynal argued after the judgment. “As for punitive damages, Texas law caps them at $750,000 per plaintiff so this verdict today amounts to $1.5 million in punitives. 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. That’s our only statement.”
Meanwhile, the jury had relied on the expert testimony of forensic economist Bernard Pettingill to determine how much Jones is worth and how much punitive damages could be awarded against him. Pettingill said Jones has nine shell companies and is worth between $135 million and $270 million, even though he claims to be poor and in debt.
“He is a very successful man, he promulgated some hate speech and some misinformation, but he made a lot of money, and he monetized that,” Pettingill, Jr. said on the stand. “My thinking about him is he didn’t ride a wave, he created the wave.”
In 2017, Scarlett said, “I held my son with a bullet hole through his head.” But she told Jones in court on Friday that “Having a 6-year-old son shot in front of his classroom is unbearable, and you don’t think you’re going to survive and then to have someone on top of that perpetuate a lie that it was a hoax, that it was a false flag.” While Jones initially claimed that the school shooting never took place, he later admitted that it actually did.