Infowars host Alex Jones must pay $4.1 million to the parents of a child killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, a jury ruled Thursday.
Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin lost their 6-year-old son, Jesse, in the 2012 massacre after a gunman attacked his school, killing 20 students and six educators. In the aftermath of the attack, Jones spread false claims that the attack was a hoax.
Lewis and Heslin brought legal action against Jones over his conspiracy theorist claims, accusing Jones of defamation. Jones’ attorney, Andino Reynal, argued that Jones had made a “terrible mistake” and asked the jury to fine his client $1.
“He made a terrible mistake,” Reynal told jurors, according to NBC News. “That mistake was weaponized by the same political forces that had descended upon Sandy Hook when it happened.”
Both parents testified during the trial. Heslin said that “the negligence and recklessness of Alex Jones” had made the grieving parent’s life a “living hell.”
“Having a 6-year-old son shot in front of his classroom is unbearable and you don’t think you’re going to survive and then to have someone on top of that perpetuate a lie that it was a hoax, that it was a false flag,” Lewis testified. “I don’t think you understand the fear you perpetuate, not just to the victim’s family but to our family, our friends and any survivor from that school.”
At one point during the trial, Jones’s legal team accidentally sent opposing attorneys a copy of Jones’ text messages. The messages purportedly revealed that Jones had made false statements about messages he sent referencing the Sandy Hook shooting. According to the parents’ attorney, Jones said earlier under oath he could not locate any messages, but his messages revealed that he sent many of them.
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