A jury in Austin, Texas, decided Friday that Infowars host Alex Jones should pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to the parents of a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting over his promotion of false conspiracy theories that the massacre was a hoax.
Jones claimed during the trial that any penalty of more than $2 million would “sink” his media outlet Infowars.
Earlier Friday, a forensic economist testifying for the plaintiffs estimated that Jones and his parent company that controls Infowars were worth between $135 million and $270 million.
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Jones faces a similar trial in Connecticut, where a judge has also found him liable for defamation in a case brought by several families.
Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, whose child Jesse was killed in the 2012 massacre, asked for at least $150 million in damages, testifying that Jones’ conspiracy theories caused them years of distress. Jones acknowledged during the trial that the shooting was “100% real,” despite spending years suggesting on his radio show that it was a hoax. Judge Maya Guerra Gamble found Jones guilty of defamation by default last year after he spent four years disregarding requests to turn over documents, such as financial records, to the court.
The biggest bombshell moment of the trial came Wednesday, when plaintiffs’ attorney Mark Bankston revealed Jones’ legal team accidentally sent him two years of records from Jones’ phone, which showed he sent texts and emails referencing Sandy Hook on numerous occasions. Jones testified under oath that he was unaware of any texts or emails about Sandy Hook, leading Bankston to accuse him of perjury—an assertion Jones denied. The House January 6 committee has since requested access to Jones’ phone records, Bankston said.