A jury in Texas has decided that Infowars founder and career conspiracy theorist Alex Jones must pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to the parents of Sandy Hook shooting victim Jesse Lewis, CNN reports.
The decision comes one day after the jury awarded $4.1 million in compensatory damages.
The jurors began deliberating around 12:30 pm CT on Friday, after Judge Maya Guerra Gamble reminded them that in a default judgment against him Jones was already found liable for defamation and “intentional infliction of emotional distress” against Lewis’ parents, Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin.
Jones’ attorney Federico Andino Reynal tried to get the jury to agree to a lower sum, saying they should multiply Jones’ estimated earnings per hour of $14,000 and the 18 hours that he said Jones pushed Sandy Hook-related conspiracy theories on air, for a total of around a $250 million.
In testimony to the court, Jones claimed that an award of just $2 million would devastate his network financially. But court witness and economist Bernard Pettingill, Jr., testified that Jones has a net worth of between $135 million and $270 million. Pettingill, Jr. also testified that Jones used two large loans to make it appear he was broke when in fact he was not.
“Alex Jones knows where the money is, he knows where that money went and he knows that he is going to eventually benefit by that money,” Pettingill, Jr. said.
“He is a very successful man, he promulgated some hate speech and some misinformation, but he made a lot of money and he monetized that,” Pettingill, Jr. continued. “My thinking about him is he didn’t ride a wave, he created the wave.”