A jury found Alex Jones guilty of defamation on Thursday after he claimed the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax, making the podcaster pay over $4 million to the parents of a victim.
The jury in Austin, Texas, awarded the plaintiffs, Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, much less than the $150 million they originally sought. The jurors will now determine if Jones has to pay any additional punitive damages.
In 2018, Lewis and Heslin, the parents of six-year-old Jesse Lewis, who was killed in the shooting, sued Jones and his company Free Speech Systems, the parent of his website InfoWars. Jones had claimed repeatedly that the shooting in Newtown, Conn., in which 26 students and teachers died, was staged.
During the trial, Jones apologized and said the 2012 shooting at the school was “100 percent real.”
Lewis and Heslin both took to the witness stand during the trial, saying Jones made their life a “living hell,” due to the threats they experienced
“I can’t even describe the last nine and a half years, the living hell that I and others have had to endure because of the recklessness and negligence of Alex Jones,” Heslin said, according to CBS News.
“It’s fear for your life,” Lewis said, the outlet reported. “You don’t know what they were going to do.”
“I wanted to tell you to your face. . . . I am a mother, first and foremost, and I know you’re a father. And my son existed,” Lewis added, according to the outlet, alluding to Jones’s comments suggesting there were “crisis actors” at the shooting.
“You’re still on your show today trying to say that, implying, that I’m an actress, that I’m deep state. You have, this week. And I don’t understand,” Lewis said, addressing Jones. “Truth — truth is so vital to our world. Truth is what we base our reality on, and we have to agree on that to have a civil society. Sandy Hook is a hard truth.”
“Jesse was real. I am a real mom,” she added. “I know you know that, and that’s the problem.”
Last year, Texas judge Guerra Gamble found Jones liable for damages in three defamation lawsuits, entering default judgments after Jones failed to give documents to the parents’ lawyers.