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Punitive Damages Loom After Jury's $4.1M Verdict Against Alex Jones

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones must pay the parents of Sandy Hook school massacre victim Jesse Lewis damage awards totaling $4.1 million, an Austin jury determined far below the $150 million requested. The financial hit against Jones and his Free Speech Systems firm might not be over. Beginning Friday morning, jurors will be asked to issue punitive damages that are intended as punishment after hearing testimony from the parents' economic expert on the net worth of Jones and his company, reports the Austin American-Statesman. Parents' lawyer Mark Bankston was not disappointed in the size of the verdict, calling $4.1 million a substantial sum for compensatory damages.

The next phase, for punitive damages, "becomes the real name of the game," he said, because jurors can do what they were barred from doing on actual damages — issue an award intended to punish Jones. Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis had asked jurors for $150 million in compensation for actual damages, saying Jones' portrayal of the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting as a hoax meant to justify a government crackdown on guns — and the parents as liars or collaborators — inspired harassment and death threats from Jones followers and made it impossible to heal from the tragedy. Jurors were informed that Jones and Free Speech Systems defamed Heslin in two 2017 InfoWars reports questioning Heslin's claim that he held his dead son and saw the bullet wound to his head after the shooting. Heslin testified that he made the statement in an NBC interview in hopes of stopping Jones' campaign and to protect the legacy of his son, who died a hero by yelling "Run!" when the gunman paused. Nine students fled; Jesse did not.


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