A jury ordered talk show radio host Alex Jones to pay $4.1 million in compensatory damages to the parents of a victim of the Sandy Hook massacre for calling it a hoax.
The jury only deliberated for several hours before delivering their order Thursday. Eight of the ten jury members signed the verdict.
Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin asked for $150 million in damages when the trial began.
Heslin testified in court that he could not “even begin to describe the last nine-and-a-half years of hell” that the plaintiffs went through on account of Jones’ assertions that the shooting was orchestrated by the government.
“It seems so incredible to me that we have to do this,” Lewis said to Jones during the trial. “That we have to implore you — not just implore you, punish you — to get you to stop lying … It is surreal what is going on in here.”
Lewis and Heslin said they faced a decade of harassment by people believing them to be lying about the massacre because of the claims made by Jones on his show.
Judge Maya Guerra Gamble had already ruled that Jones was liable for defaming Heslin and legally responsible for the emotional distress he inflicted on both Heslin and Lewis.
Among the many stunning moments from the trial was one where an attorney questioning Jones on cross-examination revealed to him that his attorney had accidentally emailed all of the contents of Jones’ phones to the prosecution.
Jones appeared to be shocked by the admission but pressed on.
He also admitted during the trial that the attack was not a hoax but “100% real,” contrary to some of the statements he had made on his show.
“I unintentionally took part in things that did hurt these people’s feelings,” he added, “and I’m sorry for that.”
Jurors will return on Friday for the punitive damages trial where they may order Jones to pay more to the plaintiffs.
Here’s more about the trial against Alex Jones:
Alex Jones’ attorneys ‘messed up,’ sending 2 years of texts to Sandy Hook family lawyers