Alex Jones on trial: Jury rules Infowars founder should pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to Sandy Hook parents

The award, which the judge could reduce, came a day after the jury awarded $4.1 million in compensatory damages.

Jurors began deliberating around 12:30 p.m. Neil Hesslin.

In an emotional closing argument Friday, Lewis and Heslin’s attorney, Wesley Todd Ball, told the jury: “We ask you to send a very, very simple message, and that is, stop Alex Jones. Stop the monetization of disinformation.” and the lies. Please.”

Ball urged jurors to “dissuade Alex Jones from ever doing such a horrible thing again” and “dissuade others who want to put themselves in his place.”

Jones’ attorney, Federico Andino Reynal, argued for a much lower sum, suggesting that jurors should multiply Jones’ alleged hourly earnings of $14,000 and the 18 hours he said Jones spoke about Sandy Hook on Infowars, by one sum of about a quarter of a million dollars.

On Thursday, in the first phase of the trial, the jury awarded the parents $4.1 million in compensatory damages, an amount far less than the $150 million that the parents’ attorneys had sought. In his closing argument, Ball thanked the jury for their decision to award the $4.1 million, saying it had already made a big difference in the parents’ lives, and asked them to award enough punitive damages to bring the total to $150 million.

Punitive damages are a form of punishment for the defendant’s behavior. Jones, the head of the conspiratorial media outlet Infowars, repeatedly lied about the Sandy Hook massacre. He fueled conspiracy theories about the victims and their families, prompting multiple libel lawsuits. He has since acknowledged that the mass shooting occurred.

Jones claimed in his testimony that a jury award of just $2 million would destroy him financially. But on Friday morning, the jury heard testimony about Jones’s wealth from an economist, Bernard Pettingill, Jr., who estimated Jones has a net worth of between $135 million and $270 million.

Pettingill, Jr., who examined several years of records from Free Speech Systems, parent of Jones and Infowars, said Jones used a series of shell companies to hide his money.

Jones used two large loans to make it look like he was broke when he really wasn’t, Pettingill, Jr. testified.

“Alex Jones knows where the money is, he knows where that money went and he knows that he will eventually benefit from that money,” Pettingill, Jr. said.

After one of the jurors asked about the difference between Jones’s money and his company’s money, Pettingill, Jr. said that “you can’t separate Alex Jones from the companies. He is the companies.”

Jones “monetized his trick,” he added, even suggesting that Jones could teach a college course on his techniques.

For many years, Jones’ fear-mongering rants about Infowars have been coupled with advertisements for supplements, documentaries, and other products that Infowars sells. Pettingill, Jr. said the money poured in, identifying nine different companies owned by Jones.

“He’s a very successful man, he spread hate speech and some misinformation, but he made a lot of money and monetized that,” Pettingill, Jr. said on the stand. “My thought about him is that he didn’t ride a wave, he created the wave.”

Jones testified earlier in the week about his alleged financial troubles after social media giants like Facebook and Twitter banned his content from their platforms.

“I remember him saying that, but the records don’t reflect that,” Pettingill, Jr. said.

During closing arguments, Ball claimed that Jones has even more money stashed away elsewhere and argued that $4.1 million was a proverbial drop in Jones’ bucket. “He’s probably back by now thanks to donations” from fans, Ball said.

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