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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his company Free Speech Systems are price as much as $270 million, an economist testified Friday to a jury attempting to find out if Jones ought to need to pay punitive damages to the household of a 6-year-old killed within the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

The identical jury ordered Jones to pay Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis $4.1 million in compensation for defamation. Jurors started contemplating further punitive damages Friday as a separate concern. The dad and mom wish to punish Jones for a decade of pushing false hoax claims that they are saying led to a decade of trauma and abuse from the Infowars host’s followers.

Bernard Pettingill, who was employed by the plaintiffs to review Jones’ web price, stated data present that Jones withdrew $62 million for himself in 2021, when default judgments have been issued in lawsuits in opposition to him.

“That number represents, in my opinion, a value of a net worth,” Pettingill said. “He’s got money put in a bank account somewhere.”

The cash that flows into Jones’ corporations finally funnels its technique to him, stated Pettingill, who added that he has testified in roughly 1,500 instances throughout his profession.

“He is a very successful man,” Pettingill stated, calling Jones a “maverick” and “revolutionary” for locating methods to monetize his on-line messaging.

Whereas the $4.1 million award Thursday was lower than the $150 million the dad and mom sought, it marked the first time Jones has been held financially liable for repeatedly claiming that the deadliest college taking pictures in U.S. historical past was a hoax perpetrated to attempt to result in tighter gun restrictions.

Mark Bankston, an lawyer for Heslin and Lewis, whose 6-year-old son Jesse was amongst 20 kids and 6 educators killed within the college assault in Newtown, Connecticut, insisted that the $4.1 million compensation award wasn’t a disappointment and warned that they’d be attempting to punish Jones within the subsequent part.

“We aren’t done yet,” Bankston stated Thursday. “After tomorrow, he’s going to owe a whole lot more.”

One other of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Wesley Ball, requested jurors in closing Friday to award an extra $145.9 million, which might deliver the full quantity in damages to that $150 million goal.

“You are asked to punish Alex Jones,” Ball said. “You are asked to deter Alex Jones from ever doing this awful thing again to another person or another family — to deter anyone who wants to step into his shoes.”

“Ship the message to those that need to do the identical: Speech is free. Lies, you pay for,” he stated.

However Jones’ legal professionals stated their consumer has already discovered his lesson, and requested for lenience. The jury’s punishment ought to be lower than $300,000, lawyer Andino Reynal stated.

“You’ve already sent a message. A message for the first time to a talk show host, to all talk show hosts, that their standard of care has to change,” Reynal said.

Jones still faces two other defamation lawsuits from Sandy Hook families in Texas and Connecticut that put his personal wealth and media empire in jeopardy.

Jones — who was in the courtroom briefly Friday but left before Pettingill’s testimony — told jurors earlier this week that any award over $2 million would “sink us.” And a week ago, his company Free Speech Systems, which is Infowars’ parent company, filed for federal bankruptcy protection.

Lawyers for the family suing Jones contend that Jones has tried to hide evidence of his true wealth and have sued him claiming he’s tried to hide money in various shell companies.

During his testimony, Jones was confronted with a memo from one of his business managers outlining a single day’s gross revenue of $800,000 from selling vitamin supplements and other products through his website, which would approach nearly $300 million in a year. Jones called it a record sales day.

Jones, who has portrayed the lawsuit as an attack on his First Amendment rights, conceded during the trial that the attack was “100% real” and that he was wrong to have lied about it. But Heslin and Lewis told jurors that an apology wouldn’t suffice and called on them to make Jones pay for the years of suffering he has put them and other Sandy Hook families through.

The parents told jurors about how they’ve endured a decade of trauma, inflicted first by the murder of their son and what followed: gun shots fired at a home, online and phone threats, and harassment on the street by strangers. They said the threats and harassment were all fueled by Jones and his conspiracy theory spread to his followers via his website Infowars.

A forensic psychiatrist testified that the parents suffer from “complex post-traumatic stress disorder” inflicted by ongoing trauma, similar to what might be experienced by a soldier at war or a child abuse victim.

Throughout the trial, Jones has been his typically bombastic self, talking about conspiracies on the witness stand, during impromptu press conferences and on his show. His erratic behavior is unusual by courtroom standards, and the judge has scolded him, telling him at one point: “This is not your show.”

The trial has drawn attention from outside Austin as well.

Bankston told the court Thursday that the U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol has requested records from Jones’ phone that Jones’ attorneys had mistakenly turned over to the plaintiffs. Bankston later said he planned to comply with the committee’s request.

Last month, the Jan. 6 committee confirmed graphic and violent textual content messages and performed movies of right-wing figures, together with Jones, and others vowing that Jan. 6 can be the day they’d combat for Trump.

The committee first subpoenaed Jones in November, demanding a deposition and paperwork associated to his efforts to unfold misinformation concerning the 2020 election and a rally on the day of the assault.

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Discover AP’s full protection of the Alex Jones trial at: https://apnews.com/hub/alex-jones

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