The Texas jury that selected conspiracy theorist and… InfoWars founder Alex Jones publicly referred to as “extremely working-class people” who “don’t know what planet they are on,” the online pseudo-celeb found Thursday liable for $4.11 million for spreading lies about the Sandy Hook school shooting .
The verdict means Jones must now pay damages for defamation and willful infliction of emotional distress on the mother and father of Jesse Lewis, a 6-year-old boy who was killed in the 2012 massacre after Jones repeatedly insisted on his show While the attack was a so-called false flag designed to gain support for stricter gun laws, the deceased child’s parents were abused and harassed by InfoWars fans for years.
Jones said at the booth Wednesday that any prize “more than $2 million” will sink him and InfoWars. (This spring an unidentified donor) Jones reportedly donated about $8 million in Bitcoin.)
Jurors will consider punitive damages on Friday, which cannot be more than 10 times the compensatory damages, against Jones and his company.
“I had seen so many other things in history that had been staged, so I started to doubt it,” Jones testified, trying to explain why he claimed Sandy Hook never happened. “When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
Andino Reynal, the attorney representing Jones, had asked the jury to limit damages to $8. But Lewis’s parents, Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, said they believed Jones would only stop spreading falsehoods if he was convicted. hit where it hurt the most. They had demanded $150 million in damages.
“I can’t even describe the past nine and a half years, the hell that I and others have endured because of Alex Jones’ recklessness and negligence,” Heslin said on the witness stand.
In her own emotional testimony, Lewis said, “I know there are hoaxes, but this is an incredibly real event. I lived it.”
During the seven-day trial, Jones suffered numerous 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 a visibly stunned Jones called “your Perry Mason moment.”
Jones previously testified under oath that he handed over all relevant evidence during the discovery process, including searching his phone for text messages related to Sandy Hook. He found none on the device, Jones insisted.
But Jones seemed stunned when Bankston said he had evidence that Jones hadn’t been telling the truth.
“Did you know that your lawyer made a mistake 12 days ago and sent me a digital copy of your entire cell phone with every text message you sent in the past two years?” asked Bankston. “And when informed, [they] has not taken steps to identify it as privileged or protected in any way?”
Bankston continued to harass Jones, insisting that he said in his affidavit that he never texted about Sandy Hook.
“If I was wrong, I would have been wrong,” Jones replied. “You have the text messages there.”
To this Bankston said, “You know what perjury is, right?”
On Jones’ Wednesday night show, he beat his “damn lawyers” for the catastrophic mistake.
Jones had also testified that he had never used email, explaining why he had not provided any of the messages requested by Bankston and his fellow adviser, Kyle Farrar. Still, he was unusually restrained when Bankston showed Jones’ own emails to the jury – which were also on the phone records accidentally sent to him.
“You agree that these are emails you sent to your lawyers, your staff and others about your business, Sandy Hook, [and] other topics…?” Banks asked Jones, who simply said, “This is ridiculous.”
Jones, whose company, Free Speech Systems, filed for bankruptcy last Friday, testified Wednesday that InfoWars sometimes made up to $800,000 a day. He also eventually admitted that Sandy Hook was not a staged event featuring “crisis actors,” but a “100 percent real” mass shooting that basically destroyed dozens of lives.
Thursday’s decision was the first of three in which juries are considering damages against Jones Judge Maya Guerra Gamble found him at fault last year for what she described as “blatant bad faith and heartless disregard” of the court’s orders during the discovery. The following month, a Connecticut judge found Jones also in defaultfor identical reasons.
An often-tired-looking Gamble repeatedly admonished Jones in court over the past week for not taking the proceedings seriously. At various times she was forced to deal with him like a schoolboy, instructing him to spit out his gum, wait his turn to speak and tell the truth.
“This is not your show,” Gamble told Jones at one point. “Your beliefs don’t make something true. You are under oath.”
Things got so heated during the procedure that lawyers from both sides reportedly nearly got into a physical altercation.
During the cross-examination, Bankston played a recent clip from Jones’s show, in which he denigrated the jury on the case. The men and women who rated him were “extremely working-class people,” half of whom “don’t know who I am,” he told viewers.
“People live in all these different bubbles, and there are bubbles that are awake and there are bubbles that ask questions, but then there are the blue city bubbles where people don’t know what planet they are on,” Jones lamented in the clip.
Jurors then sent a note to Jones through courtroom officials, asking, “Do you know that this jury is made up of 16 intelligent, honest citizens who are not being improperly influenced in any way?”
In Jones’ defense, Reynal had argued that Heslin and Lewis had not shown actual evidence of harm, alleging that Jones had been unfairly slandered by the media. From the outset, Jones has framed the case as an attack on his First Amendment rights, though his lawyers had to be reminded by Gamble that the jurors were only there to determine the damages, because Jones was defending his right to sue. for failing to comply with his First Amendment. right to make false statements.
“Do you want to decide for yourself what you see and hear or do you want a plaintiff’s lawyer to decide for you?” Reynal asked the jury during closing arguments on Wednesdaybizarrely invoking a Holocaust-era poem as his client, who has propagated numerous anti-Semitic conspiracies on his show, watched.
“There was a Lutheran minister named Martin Niemöller in the 1930s, and he was locked up in a concentration camp,” Reynal continued. “When he got out, he thought about the fact that he had stopped. And he said, ‘First they came for the communists, and I said, ‘I’m not a communist’ and did nothing. Then they came to get the union members and I said, ‘I’m not a unionist.’ Then they came for the Jews and I said, ‘I am not a Jew.’ And when they came to get me, there was no one left.”
According to Reynal, Jones “made a terrible mistake,” he said in his closing statement. “That mistake was armed by the same political forces that had descended on Sandy Hook when it happened.”
Austin-based trial attorney Holly Davis, who represented Bankston and Farrar in the case, said in an emailed statement that Jones pressed his nose at the legal system during the trial.
“The irony should not be lost on this jury that this whole trial is about consequences for lies being told to the public,” Davis said. “The fact that lies may have been told to the jury who can hand out a consequence to the narrator of the lie is the beauty of the judicial system.”