Alex Jones arriving at the courtroom (3 August): "Do you know what perjury is?"
Photo: Bob Daemmrich / dpa
A court in Austin, Texas has ordered far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay at least $4.1 million in damages to the surviving parents of a Sandy Hook school shooting victim.
Jones has previously lied that the primary school shooting in the small town of Newton, Connecticut, in late 2012 was staged.
The parents of Jesse Lewis, who was then six, had sued the right-wing radio host over his claims that they were seeking $150 million in compensation.
In fact, the sum that the 48-year-old radio host and founder of the right-wing website »Infowars« has to pay could increase significantly.
The jury can award the boy's parents, Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, up to an additional $75 million in so-called punitive damages.
Such punitive damages, intended as punishment and deterrent, are often significantly higher than the actual damages.
The deliberations are scheduled to begin this Friday.
Jones himself was not in the courtroom when the verdict was announced on Thursday, and his lawyers did not comment on the jury's verdict.
The plaintiffs' lawyers were satisfied, even if the amount of damages initially turned out to be lower than they had requested.
"We're not done, folks," Reuters news agency quoted Mark Bankston, one of the lawyers.
It was necessary to ask an enormous sum of money to convince the jury that "we mean business," Bankston said.
Jones will have to pay a lot more.
more on the subject
Trial of right-wing conspiracy theorists: Leaked text messages put Alex Jones in distress
Committee of inquiry into the storming of the US Capitol: And Trump wrote: »Come here, get wild!« By Marc Pitzke, New York
USA: The Information WarriorBy Veit Medick
Jones has repeatedly claimed that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a fake to enforce gun laws.
In the shooting spree in the city of Newtown on December 14, 2012, the perpetrator shot 20 children and six adults before taking his own life.
Jones, who is very influential in radical right-wing circles, has been sued by a number of parents for his allegations, and now he has been sentenced to pay damages for the first time.
The civil trial in Austin had caused quite a stir.
On Wednesday, plaintiff attorney Bankston caused a surprise when he announced in court that Jones' attorneys had accidentally sent him a complete digital copy of the conspiracy theorist's cellphone.
"Do you know what perjury is?"
Bankston said Jones had repeatedly testified under oath that he could not find any text messages about the elementary school massacre on his cell phone.
But there were such messages on the cell phone.
"Do you know what perjury is?" the attorney asked Jones.
Jones' attorneys then asked for the trial to be dropped, but Judge Maya Guerra Gamble refused.
»Infowars« had already filed for bankruptcy in April.
Another of Jones' companies, Free Speech Systems, filed for bankruptcy last week.
Jones is known as a supporter of former US President Donald Trump (Read more about Alex Jones and his alliance with US President Donald Trump here).
He endorsed Trump's false claim that his election loss to current President Joe Biden was the result of massive fraud.
Jones was also in Washington when radical Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
He was questioned behind closed doors by the parliamentary inquiry into the storming of the Capitol.