Controversial host Alex Jones has been handed an over $45 million fine after parents sued him over his comments on the Sandy Hook shooting.
The ruling from a Texas jury came just one day after a judge ordered Jones to pay $4.2 million for claiming that the shooting was a hoax. An attorney for parents Scarlett Lewis and Neil Helsin had asked the panel to deliver a verdict big enough to “take the bullhorn away” from Jones, NBC News reported.
“I ask that with your verdict, you not only take Alex Jones’ platform that he talks about away. I ask that you make sure that he can’t rebuild the platform. That’s what matters,” lawyer Wesley Ball said. “That is punishment, that is deterrence.”
Jones had claimed that the mass shooting was staged or faked using actors. The mass shooting killed 20 first-grade students and six staffers at the school, including Lewis and Helsin’s 6-year-old son, Jesse.
Jones viewed the original fine of $4.2 million a major victory, but the new fines bring the total amount to almost $50 million.
Jones had claimed that any award that came in at more than $2 million would “sink” Infowars’ parent company, Free Speech Systems. The company filed for bankruptcy protection at the start of the two-week trial. Jones also admitted under oath during the trial that the shooting was “100% real.”
A plaintiff-hired economist had estimated Jones and the company were worth as much as $270 million and that he withdrew $62 million for himself last year as he faced default judgments in lawsuits. Jones has faced accusations of trying to hide his wealth amid a slew of legal cases.
Jones’ attorneys claimed that their client had learned his lesson and asked for the penalty to be under $300,000, according to the Associated Press.
“You’ve already sent a message,” attorney Andino Reynal said. “A message for the first time to a talk show host, to all talk show hosts, that their standard of care has to change.”
Jones was the only defense witness in the trial, Jones took the stand as the only defense witness and in a now-viral moment was confronted by a plaintiff attorney who revealed the host’s legal team had accidentally shared the contents of his cellphone and neglected to claim them as privileged.
Jones had insisted under oath that he found no texts and emails about the mass shooting when the records were requested as pre-trial evidence. However, he was clearly startled when opposing lawyer Mark Bankston asked him “Do you know what perjury is?” while on the stand.
The blunder may have consequences outside the Sandy Hook case. Bankston told the court Thursday that the House select committee investigating last year’s Capitol riot had requested records from the phone — and the attorney later said that he planned to comply with the committee’s request.
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