Alex Jones has been ordered to pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to the family of a Sandy Hook victim by a Texas jury, on top of the $4.11 million he already has to pay them in restitution.
The right-wing conspiracy theorist was not in court when the jury in Travis County, Texas, returned its unanimous verdict against him late Friday afternoon.
Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose six-year-old son Jesse was among the 20 students and six adults killed in the mass shooting, sued Jones and his media company Infowars over claims he made that the massacre was a “false flag”. operation and that the victims did not actually exist.
The jury’s decision came just one day after it found Jones to pay $4.11 million in restitution to the family.
Mr. Heslin and Ms. Lewis had asked for $150 million in damages, and the jury’s award of punitive damages is designed to deter harmful conduct.
After the ruling, the family’s attorney Mark Bankston asked the judge to rule on whether he could release a copy of Jones’ phone records, which he revealed during the trial had been accidentally sent to him by Jones’ own legal team.
Mr Bankston has told the court that the January 6 committee and other law enforcement agencies have already asked him to hand over a copy of the data.
Lawyers for Jones said they wanted the judge to rule that Mr Bankston could not pass on the text messages and emails on the phone, but she refused to get involved in the situation.
“I’m not standing between you (Bankston) and Congress, it’s not my job and I’m not going to do it. I’m not getting in the middle of that fight, said judge Maya Guerra Gamble.
The judge went on to tell the court that the case had been a “challenging and exhausting few weeks for all of us”.
During the final day of testimony, the family’s attorney astonishingly informed Jones that his own attorney had accidentally sent them two years of his text messages.
Jones claimed during discovery that he could not find any Sandy Hook-related text messages on his phone, but denied lying under oath.
Before the jury returned its punitive damages verdict, a forensic economist had given evidence of Jones’ wealth.
Bernard Pettingill told the court that Jones began depositing $11,000 a day into an alleged shell company after being found responsible in the Sandy Hook cases.
He told the jury that his estimate was that Infowars earned $64 million last year and that Jones’ media company Free Speech Systems was worth between $135 million and $270 million.
“As much of a maverick as he is, as much of an outsider as he is, he’s a very successful man,” Pettingill said of Jones.
He went on to estimate that Jones’ personal worth was between $70 million and $140 million, and that he had taken in $165 million from September 2015 to December 2018.
Pettingil told the court that Jones had withdrawn $61.9 million from Free Speech Systems in 2021, the year the default judgment was entered against him.