After a dramatic week of testimony, jurors on Thursday decided that conspiracy theorist Alex Jones must pay over $4 million to the parents of a Sandy Hook victim, who sued the InfoWars founder for defamation due to his lies about the 2012 massacre, CNN reports.
Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose son, Jesse Lewis, was 6 when he was killed in the shooting, sought $150 million from Jones and his company Free Speech Systems LLC. Jones’ lawyer asked the jury to award only $8—$1 for each compensation charge they were considering in the trial.
On Tuesday, the parents testified that Jones spread the conspiracy theory that the shooting was a “false flag” operation, which caused them PTSD and prompted Jones’ followers to harass them. At one point, someone shot at Heslin’s car. Lewis said she received threatening voicemails.
During testimony on Wednesday, Jones was forced to admit that the elementary school shooting did, in fact, happen and that the plaintiffs’ child had been, in fact, brutally murdered.
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That same day, Heslin and Lewis’ lawyer, Mark Bankston, revealed that Jones’ attorney had accidentally sent a copy of every text sent from Jones’ phone over the past two years to Bankston. Jones, who was under oath at the time, was visibly shocked. Bankston then caught Jones in an obvious lie: Jones denied being able to find emails or texts in which he discussed Sandy Hook, and Bankston replied: “You know what perjury is, right?”
Jones’ lawyers made other weird blunders throughout the trial, including on Thursday, when they asked the judge to declare a mistrial over their accidental leaking of the phone contents to Bankston. Judge Maya Guerra Gamble’s response dripped with disdain as she reportedly said this was “like the 17th time” the defense had asked for a mistrial, adding, “I don’t even know if you meant it.”
The trial is not yet over, however. Now that the jury has awarded damages, an economic expert will testify about the net worth of Jones and his company. Jones, who filed for federal bankruptcy protection for Free Speech Systems last week, will likely also take the stand again to make himself sound as poor as possible. (Earlier this week, he claimed that being required to pay any award over $2 million “would sink us.”) That may be difficult, however, given that his phone records also revealed that he once made $800,000 from product sales in a single day, which would add up to more than $300 million a year. Spreading horrific conspiracy theories appears to have—at least once upon a time—made Jones a very rich man.
Jones faces two more trials to determine how much his Sandy Hook conspiracy theories will cost him. Lawyers for those families claim he declared bankruptcy as a delay tactic.