A Texas jury that conspiracy theorist and InfoWars founder Alex Jones publicly referred to as “very blue collar people” who “don’t know what planet they’re on” found false online celebrities charged Thursday $4.11 million for spreading lies About the Sandy Hook School shooting.
The verdict means Jones now has to pay damages for defamation and willfully causing emotional distress to Jesse Lewis’ father and father, a 6-year-old boy who was killed in the 2012 massacre. After Jones repeatedly insisted on his show that the attack was a so-called pseudoscience aimed at Winning support for stricter gun control laws, the late child’s parents were subjected to years of abuse and harassment from InfoWars fans.
Any prize “over $2 million” would sink him and InfoWars, Jones said on the podium Wednesday. (This spring, anonymous donor Jones reportedly gifted nearly $8 million in Bitcoin.)
Jurors will consider punitive damages, not to exceed 10 times the damages, against Jones and his company on Friday.
Jones testified in an attempt to explain why he claimed Sandy Hook never happened: “I’ve seen a lot of other things in history that have been staged, so that made me question them.” “When you’re a hammer, everything feels like a nail.”
Andino Renal, the attorney representing Jones, asked the jury to set a maximum damages amount of $8. But Lewis’ parents Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis said they believed Jones would not stop spreading lies unless he was beaten where it hurts the most. They have requested $150 million in damages.
“I can’t even describe the past nine and a half years, the living hell that I and the others have had to endure because of Alex Jones’ recklessness and negligence,” Heslin said on the podium.
In her emotional testimony, Lewis said, “I know there are hoaxes, but this is an incredibly real event. I lived through it.”
During the seven-day trial, Jones faced several setbacks by Heslin and Lewis’ attorneys.
On Wednesday, the second and final day of Jones’ testimony, their attorney Mark Bankston shocked the courtroom with what the clearly stunned Jones described as his “Berry Mason moment.”
Previously, Jones testified under oath that he turned over all relevant evidence during the discovery process, including searching his phone for any Sandy Hook related text messages. Jones insisted he did not find anything on the device.
But Jones seemed dumbfounded when Bankston said he had proof that Jones hadn’t told the truth.
“Did you know that 12 days ago, your attorney erred and sent me a digital copy of your entire cell phone, with every text message you’ve sent for the past two years?” Bankston asked. And when you are notified of this, [they] Did you take any steps to identify it as privileged or protected in any way? “
Bankston continued to hit Jones, asserting that he said, in his sworn testimony, that he never sent a single text message about Sandy Hook.
Jones replied, “If I’m wrong, I was wrong.” “I got text messages there.”
“You know what perjury is, right?” Bankston said.
On Jones’ show Wednesday night, he blasted his “damn lawyer” for the disastrous mistake.
Jones also testified that he never used the email, explaining why he did not provide any of the communications requested by Bankston and his assistant attorney, Kyle Farrar. However, he was uncharacteristically quiet when Bankston showed Jones’ emails to the jury – which were also on the phone data mistakenly sent to him.
“You agree that these are emails you have sent to your attorney, your employees, and others regarding your business operations, Sandy Hook, [and] Other topics…?” Banks asked Jones, who said simply, “That’s ridiculous.”
Jones, whose company, Free Speech Systems, filed for bankruptcy last Friday, testified Wednesday that InfoWars sometimes earns as much as $800,000 a day. He also finally admitted that Sandy Hook wasn’t an event staged with “crisis actors,” but a “100 percent real” mass shooting that actually took dozens of lives.
Thursday’s decision was the first of three decisions that juries will consider damages against Jones afterwards Judge Maya Guerra Gamble found him in default last year for what she described as “blatant bad faith and blatant disregard” for court orders while they were discovered. The next month, a A Connecticut judge also found Jones in defaultfor similar reasons.
Time and time again, tired Gamble has repeatedly blamed Jones in court over the past week, for not taking the proceedings seriously. At various points, she was forced to treat him like a schoolboy, instructing him to spit his gums, wait for his turn to speak, and tell the truth.
“This is not your show,” Gamble told Jones at one point. “Your beliefs make nothing real. You are under oath.”
Things got really hot during the proceedings Lawyers for both sides reportedly nearly got into a physical altercation.
During cross-examination, Bankston played a recent segment of Jones’s show, discrediting the jury sitting on the case. He told viewers that the men and women who judged him were “too blue-collared,” half of whom “don’t know who I am.”
In the clip, Jones complained: “People live in all these different bubbles, there are awakened bubbles and there are wondering bubbles, but then there are blue city bubbles where people don’t know which planet they are on.” .
The jurors then sent a note to Jones via courtroom officials, asking one of them “Are you aware that this jury is made up of 16 intelligent and fair citizens who are not improperly influenced in any way?”
In Jones’ defense, Raynal argued that Heslin and Lewis showed no actual evidence of damages, and claimed that Jones was unfairly shamed by the media. From the outset, Jones framed the case as an attack on his First Amendment rights—even though Gamble had to remind his attorneys that jurors were only there to assess damages because Jones had defaulted on his right to appear in court because of his First Amendment. The right to make false statements.
“Do you want to choose what you will watch and listen to, or do you want the plaintiff’s attorney to decide for you?” Renal asked the jury during closing arguments on Wednesdayoddly conjuring up a Holocaust-era poem as he considers his client, who has pushed countless anti-Semitic plots into his show.
“There was a Lutheran minister named Martin Niemöller in the 1930s, and he was imprisoned in a concentration camp,” Rinal continued. When he came out, he thought of the fact that he stood silent. And he said, ‘They came first for the Communists,’ and I said, ‘I am not a communist,’ and I did nothing. Then they came for the trade unionists and I said, “I’m not a trade unionist.” Then they came to the Jews and I said: I am not a Jew. And when they came for me, there was no one left.”
According to Renal, Jones “made a terrible mistake,” he said in his closing arguments. “This bug was used as a weapon by the same political forces that landed on Sandy Hook when it happened.”
Austin-based attorney Holly Davis, who assisted Bankston and Farrar in the case, said in an emailed statement that Jones flaunted the legal system throughout the trial.
“It should not be lost on the jury irony that this whole trial is about the consequences of lies told to the public,” Davis said. “The fact that lies may have been told to a jury that can hand a consequence to the teller of lies is the beauty of the judicial system.”