On Friday, a jury in Texas, Alex Jones’ home state, unanimously decided to punish him,on to the parents of Jesse Lewis, 6, who died in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
The libel suit concerned Jones’ regular rants on his Infowars website that Sandy Hook was a hoax, staged that none of the 20 dead children, or their parents, were even real:
From October 26, 2017: “I don’t know what really happened with Sandy Hook, folks. We looked at all sides, we played devil’s advocate on both sides, but I mean, it is as bogus as a three dollar bill.”
From January 13, 2015: “Sandy Hook is a synthetic, completely fake, with actors, in my opinion, fabricated.”
The road to trial for Alex Jones has been as ugly and wild as last week’s trial turned out to be, reports correspondent Martha Teichner.
Scarlett Lewis, Jesse’s mother, addressed Jones from the podium: “. I’m a real mom… I know you know it; This is the problem.”
Jesse’s father, Neil Heslin, describes the harassment, including death threats, that he and the other families of Sandy Hook victims suffered because Jones’ supporters believed him. Heslin told the court, “I can’t even describe the last nine and a half years of living hell that I and others have had to endure.”
Jones testified, “I’ve done some things that aren’t right, and I didn’t do it on purpose, and I apologize.”
In one of many stunning moments in court last week, a suddenly contrite Alex Jones admitted he had lied. “Especially since I met the parents, and, uh,,” he stated.
CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman told Teichner, “Alex Jones is exposed as a liar, and when Alex Jones then admits, admits that he knew it happened at Sandy Hook and that it wasn’t a hoax, if that didn’t make you shiver, I don’t know what would.”
Another of those moments: the revelation that Jones’ lawyer mistakenly sent years of text messages to the Other Side prove he lied – the phone records that Jones claimed under oath did not exist. They are.
Klieman said, “It’s certainly possible that a prosecutor would look at the record of this case and say, ‘This is someone who committed perjury.'”
Teichner asked, “How much trouble is he really in?”
“I think Alex Jones is in a world of trouble,” she replied.
As a side show to the drama inside, outside the courtroom, Jones shouted “witch hunt.”
“It’s kangaroo court,” he said. “It’s a political action.”
And then he cried poor. His company, Free Speech Systems,.
Forensic economist Bernard Pettingill testified that Jones and his company are actually worth between $135 million and $270 million and that he has shielded money in shell companies.
He told the jury: “Alex Jones, as much as he is a maverick, as much as an outsider as he is, he’s a very successful man. … Everything flows to Alex Jones. I think that Alex Jones made all the major decisions, and I think Alex Jones knows where the money is.”
Will Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin see that the money they were hoping for would be a deterrent, preventing Alex Jones and others from profiting from spreading lies? Probably not. Texas caps punitive damages. This $45 million is in danger of being reversed.
And his attorney said that once the trial is over, Jones will continue with his show. “Alex Jones will be on air today, he will be on air tomorrow, he will be on air next week,” he said.
But Jones still faces other trials, in Texas and Connecticut, where lies can prove much more costly.
“What a verdict really means is telling the truth,” Klieman said. “Will this really change the tenor of the information age, the lies, the misinformation, the subterfuge, the falsehood? I don’t think we know yet, but at least it’s a start.
Story produced by Mary Raffalli. Publisher: Mike Levine.