The award, which the judge was able to shorten, came a day after the jury determined $4.1 million in damages.
The jurors began deliberating around 12:30 p.m. CT on Friday after Judge Maya Guerra Gamble reminded them that Jones had already been found liable in a default judgment against him for defamation and “deliberate infliction of emotional distress” against Lewis’ parents, Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin. .
In an emotional closing statement Friday, Lewis and Heslin’s attorney Wesley Todd Ball told the jury: “We’re asking you to send a very, very simple message, and that is, stop Alex Jones. Stop monetizing misinformation and lies. Please. “
Ball urged the judges to “stop Alex Jones from ever doing this horrible thing again” and “deter others who might want to put themselves in his shoes.”
Jones’ attorney, Federico Andino Reynal, argued for a much lower amount, suggesting that the jurors should multiply Jones’ alleged hourly earnings of $14,000 and the 18 hours that Jones said Jones talked about Sandy Hook on Infowars for one. amount of about a quarter of a million dollars.
Punitive damages is a form of punishment for the conduct of a suspect. Jones, the head of the conspiratorial media outlet Infowars, lied repeatedly about the Sandy Hook massacre. He stoked conspiracy theories about the victims and their families, leading to multiple defamation lawsuits. He has since acknowledged that the mass shooting took place.
Jones claimed in his testimony that a jury award of just $2 million would financially destroy him. But on Friday morning, the jurors heard testimonials about Jones’ wealth from an economist, Bernard Pettingill, Jr., who estimated Jones has a net worth of between $135 million and $270 million.
Pettingill, Jr., who researched several years of records for Jones and Infowars’ parent company Free Speech Systems, said Jones used a series of empty companies to hide his money.
Jones used two large loans to make it look like he was broke when in fact he wasn’t, Pettingill, Jr. testified.
“Alex Jones knows where the money is, he knows where that money has gone, and he knows he will benefit from that money eventually,” said Pettingill, Jr.
After one of the judges asked about the difference between Jones’ money and his company’s money, Pettingill Jr. said, “You can’t separate Alex Jones from the companies. He is the companies.”
Jones “made money off his shtick,” he added, even suggesting that Jones could teach a college course on his techniques.
Jones’ terrifying rants about Infowars have for years been accompanied by advertisements for supplements, documentaries and other products Infowars sells. Pettingill, Jr. said the money poured in and identified nine different companies owned by Jones.
“He’s a very successful man. He spread some hate speech and some misinformation, but he made a lot of money and he made money doing it,” said Pettingill, Jr. in the booth. “My thinking about him is that he didn’t ride a wave, he created the wave.”
Jones testified earlier this week about his alleged financial difficulties after social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter banned his content from their platforms.
“I remember him saying that, but the data doesn’t reflect that,” said Pettingill, Jr.
During closing arguments, Ball claimed that Jones had hidden even more money in other places and argued that $4.1 million was a drop in Jones’ proverbial bucket. “He’s probably already recouped it with donations” from fans, Ball said.