An Austin, Texas, jury ordered InfoWars host Alex Jones to pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to the parents of a Sandy Hook victim Friday, on top of the $4.1 million in compensatory damages he owes to the couple.
The jury’s order follows their previous ruling Thursday, which ordered Jones to pay $4.1 million in compensatory damages to Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, the parents of 6-year-old Sandy Hook victim Jesse Lewis, who sued the InfoWars host for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Their son died after 20-year-old Adam Lanza opened fire inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 20 children and 6 adults in December, 2012.
The couple sued Jones after he repeated false statements about the shooting, including Jones’ false claim that the shooting was a hoax and that”no one died” in the Sandy Hook shooting, the Washington Post reported. Jones alleged that the shooting had been staged by the government and gun-control activists, the outlet continued.
Punitive damages are a form of punishment based on the defendant’s behavior, and are adjusted based on the defendant’s finances, experts told the Washington Post. Bernard Pettingill Jr., a forensic economist, testified on Friday that Jones’ net worth sits between $135 to 270 million. (RELATED: NBC In Crisis Mode Over Megyn Kelly Interview With Alex Jones)
An attorney part of Jones’ defense team requested the jury order his client to award $1 to the family, arguing Jones had already paid the damages after being removed from several social media platforms, including YouTube and Spotify, over his remarks, NBC News reported.
“He made a terrible mistake,” Jones’ attorney Andino Reynal said during the trial. “That mistake was weaponized by the same political forces that had descended upon Sandy Hook when it happened.”
The trial hung on a 2017 episode of NBC’s “Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly” during which Heslin reported that he had held his son “with a bullet hole through his head,” NBC reported. Jones later implied that Heslin had lied, the outlet stated.
In October 2021, Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, who lost their son, Noah Ponzer, in the deadly massacre, sued Jones for suggesting in 2015 that the shooting had been staged, according to NPR. The judge ordered for Jones to pay “reasonable attorney’s fees in connection with Plaintiff’s Motion.”
Jones testified Wednesday that the shooting was “100% real,” NPR reported.