7 takeaways from the Alex Jones trial

The trial this week for damages to be paid by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to the parents of a child killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Primary School revealed some interesting details about Mr Jones and his media company Infowars, which he used to broadcast lies about the shooting.

The Austin, Texas jury awarded more than $4 million in compensatory damages on Thursday and deliberates on punitive damages on Friday.

Mr Jones was found guilty last year of defaming the families of the victims after spreading false theories that the shooting was part of a government plot to confiscate Americans’ guns and that the families of the victims had been complicit in this scheme. This week’s trial is the first of three that will determine how much Mr Jones owes the families for the suffering he caused.

Here are several key takeaways from the closely watched trial.

  • After Mr. Jones was found liable by default in the Sandy Hook cases, he began transferring $11,000 a day to a shell company he controls, Bernard Pettingill Jr., an economic consultant, told the jury on Friday. .

  • Mr Pettingill estimated the net worth of Mr Jones and Free Speech Systems, the parent company of Infowars, to be between $135 million and $270 million. At one point, Mr. Jones was paying himself an average of $6 million a year, Mr. Pettingill said.

  • A lawyer for Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis died in the 2012 attack, presented documents Wednesday showing Infowars made more than $800,000 a day at one point given in 2018. Mr Jones said the amount stemmed from a particularly lucrative time at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

  • On Friday, a lawyer for Ms Lewis and Mr Heslin asked jurors to award nearly $146 million in punitive damages, saying they had the option “to arrest Alex Jones. Stop monetizing misinformation and lies. Mr Jones’ lawyer demanded a $270,000 reward, saying Mr Jones had ‘repeatedly apologized and offered to have the parents on his show’.

  • Jurors heard on Wednesday that Mr Jones’ lawyer had accidentally sent two years of text messages to the families’ lawyers. The material appeared to contradict claims he had made under oath about his finances and the messages he had exchanged about Sandy Hook. The trove of messages is now of interest to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, which is examining Mr. Jones’ role in planning the events leading up to the riot.


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