AUSTIN (KXAN) — One day after a Jury finds Infowars host Alex Jones owes Sandy Hook victim’s family millions of dollarshe sat down again to address other damages he owed: more than $45 million.
Last year, a court found Jones liable for claims the shooting was a hoax and the parents were “actors in the crisis.” Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of a 6-year-old who died, are suing Jones for defamation and infliction of emotional distress.
For the past two weeks, jurors have heard testimony in Austin and on Thursday calculated the first of two amounts he owes. They returned a verdict of $4.1 million in compensatory damages, or what is owed to the parents, for defamation and emotional distress.
On Friday, he looked at the second amount: punitive damages, or how much he owes as a penalty. It unanimously ruled that he owed a total of $45.2 million.
The jury first heard testimony about Jones’ net worth from forensic economist Dr. Bernard Pettingill Jr., who estimated the combined net worth of Jones and Free Speech Systems, LLC, at somewhere between $135 million and $270 million.
During the trial, jurors had the opportunity to ask their own questions. One asked Pettingill what the difference is between a person’s net worth and a company that person owns.
“There’s really no difference,” he said. “You can’t separate Alex Jones from the company.”
Jones’ defense attorney, Andino Reynal, disputed Pettingill’s testimony and said “we didn’t get any evidence of what Alex Jones actually has today.” At the end of July Free Speech Systems LLC has filed for bankruptcy.
“You made a judgment based on reason and reason, which you must do again,” Reynal said as he continued his closing argument.
The plaintiffs initially sought $150 million in compensatory damages and $145.9 million in punitive damages.
“Your sentence (Thursday) so far does not punish or deter in any way — that is the purpose at this stage,” Wesley Ball, Lewis’ attorney, said in closing arguments. Ball told the jury they were given two tasks: to punish Jones and deter others “who might want to step into his shoes.”