Alex Jones ordered to pay $49.3 million in damages to Sandy Hook parents

Alex Jones ordered to pay $49.3 million in damages to Sandy Hook parents

AUSTIN, Texas - A jury on Friday ordered Infowars Alex Jones to pay $49.3 million in total damages to the parents of a first-grader killed in Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, which was the conspiracy theorist falsely calling it a hoax orchestrated by the government in order to tighten U.S. gun laws.

The amount is less than the $150 million sought by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose 6 year-old son Jesse Lewis was among 19 children and six educators killed in the deadliest classroom shooting in U.S. history.

Jones has been held financially liable for lying about the 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut. Jones called Heslin and Lewis $4.1 million in compensatory damages, a major victory for Jurors at the beginning of the day. In the final phase of the two-week trial, the same Austin jury came back and tacked on $45.2 million in punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish defendants for felony offenses, beyond the monetary compensation awarded to the individuals they hurt. A high punitive award is seen as a chance for jurors to send a wider societal message and deter others from the same abhorrent conduct in the future. Attorneys for the family had urged jurors to hand down a financial punishment that would put Infowars out of business. Wesley Ball, an attorney for the parents, told the jury he had the ability to stop this man from doing it again. It is not known how much money Jones and his parent company, Free Speech Systems, have. An economist hired by the plaintiffs testified that Jones and the company are worth up to $270 million, suggesting that Jones was still making money. Jones said that any award over $2 million would sink us. Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy protection during the trial's first week. Jones is currently facing two other defamation lawsuits from Sandy Hook families in Texas and Connecticut.