Jury in Alex Jones defamation case to begin deliberations on punitive damages

By Jack Queen

(Reuters) – Lawyers for parents of a child slain in the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting are expected to present evidence on Alex Jones’ wealth to jurors in Texas Friday as they seek punitive damages beyond the $4.1 million they secured for the US conspiracy theorist’s falsehoods about the massacre.

A 12-person jury on Thursday said Jones must pay the parents $4.1 million in compensatory damages for spreading conspiracy theories about the killing of 20 children and six staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012.

The verdict followed a two-week trial in Austin, Texas, where Jones’ radio show and webcast Infowars are based.

Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, parents of slain six-year-old Jesse Lewis, are also seeking punitive damages. A finance expert is set to testify on their behalf on Friday before jurors deliberate again.

Heslin and Lewis testified that Jones’ followers harassed them for years in the false belief that the parents lied about their son’s death.

Jones sought to distance himself from the conspiracy theories during his testimony, apologizing to the parents and acknowledging that Sandy Hook was “100% real.”

Kyle Farrar, an attorney for the parents, urged jurors during closing arguments on Wednesday to hold Jones accountable for profiting off their son’s death.

Jones’ attorney, Federico Andino Reynal, told jurors on Wednesday that Infowars had reported “irresponsibly” on Sandy Hook but said his client was not liable for the actions of his viewers.

Jones’ company, Free Speech Systems LLC, declared bankruptcy last week. Jones said during a Monday broadcast that the filing will help the company stay on the air while it appeals.

The bankruptcy declaration paused a similar defamation suit by Sandy Hook parents in Connecticut where, as in Texas, he has already been found liable.

(Reporting by Jack Queen; Editing by Howard Goller)

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