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U.S. conspiracy theorists ordered to pay a total of $ 49.3 million for school shooting lies

A Texas jury on Friday toldInfowars'Alex Jones to a total of 4,930 first-year parents killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. I ordered you to pay $ 10,000 in damages. Conspiracy theorists mistakenly called hoaxes organized by the government to strengthen US gun law.

The amount is less than the $ 150 million sought by Neil Hesslin and Scarlet Lewis. His six-year-old son, Jesse Lewis, was one of 20 children and 6 educators killed in the worst classroom shooting in US history. .. The trial is the first time Jones has been held financially liable for lying in a 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut.

The jury initially gave Hesslyn and Lewis $ 4.1 million in punitive damages, which Jones called a big victory. However, at the end of the two-week trial, the same Austin jury returned and added an additional $ 45.2 million in punitive damages.

Earlier this week, Jones testified that awards over $ 2 million would "sink us." His company's free speech system, the parent company of Infowars', filed for bankruptcy protection in the first week of the trial.

Punitive damages are intended to punish the defendant for particularly malicious acts beyond the monetary compensation given to the individual injured by the defendant. High disciplinary awards are also seen as an opportunity for juries to send a broader social message and a way to discourage others from the same abominable acts in the future.

'Send a message'

Family lawyers urge jury trials to impose financial penalties for closingInfowarsI did.

"You have the ability to stop this man from doing it again," parents' lawyer Wesley Ball told the jury. "Send a message to anyone who wants to do the same: speech is free. Lie, you pay."

The economist hired by the plaintiff is Jones and the company is the largest He testified that it was worth $ 270 million, suggesting that Jones was still making money.

Bernard Pettingil, hired by plaintiffs to investigate Jones' net worth, withdrew $ 62 million for himself in 2021, when Jones was sentenced to default in a proceeding against him. He said the records showed that.

"In my opinion, that number represents the value of net worth," Pettingil said. "He's putting money in a bank account somewhere."

Money that flows into Jones' company will eventually flow into him, Pettingil said, about 1,500 during his career. He added that he testified in the case.

However, Jones' lawyer said their clients had already learned his lessons and they sought generosity. The jury's punishment must be less than $ 300,000, said lawyer Andino Reinal.

"You have already sent a message. For the first time, we have sent a message to talk show organizers and all talk show organizers that their standard care must be changed," Reinal said. rice field.

Jones, who temporarily stayed in court on Friday but was not in court due to a verdict, faces two other defamation proceedings from the Sandy Hook family in Texas and Connecticut. , Endangering his personal wealth and media empire.

A lawyer for the Sandy Hooks suing Jones claims that Jones not only tried to hide evidence of his true wealth, but also tried to hide money at various shell companies. ..

Jones faced a note from one of his owners during his testimony. The total daily income from selling vitamin supplements and other products through his website is $ 800,000, which is close to $ 300 million annually. .. Jones called it a record sale date.

Jones, who described the proceeding as an attack on the rights of the First Amendment, admitted during the trial that the attack was "100% genuine" and that it was wrong to lie about it. .. However, Hesslin and Lewis told the jury that the apology was not enough and asked Jones to pay for the many years of suffering they and the other Sandy Hook families had experienced.

Parents' Decades of Trials

Parents tell the jury a 10-year trauma of what happened first with the murder of his son I talked about how I have endured. Shooting at home, intimidation online and by phone, harassment on the streets by strangers. They said all the threats and harassment were fueled by conspiracy theories spread to Jones and his followers through his websiteInfowars

Forensic psychiatrists, parents A "stress disorder" caused by ongoing trauma, similar to what war soldiers and victims of child abuse may experience, who testified that they are suffering "after complex trauma."

Throughout the trial, Jones was his typical exaggerated self, talking about witness stands, improvised press conferences, and plots at his show. His irregular behavior is unusual by court standards, and the judge scolded him and at some point said, "This is not your show."

This trial is also drawing attention from outside Austin.

Sandy Hook's parents' lawyer, Mark Bankston, was in court Thursday, and the U.S. House of Representatives investigating the January 6, 2021 riots at the U.S. House of Representatives became Jones' lawyer. He said he requested a record from Jones' phone. He accidentally handed it over to the plaintiff. Bankston later stated that he would comply with the Commission's request.

Last month, the January 6th Commission displayed a graphic and violent text message, played a video of a right-wing person, including Jones, and January 6th for former President Donald. I vowed that it would be a day to fight. Trump falsely claimed that the 2020 presidential election he had lost was stolen from him.

Commission first summoned Jones in November, requesting testimony records and documents related to his efforts to disseminate false information about the 2020 elections and the rally on the day of the attack. did.