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Jury in Alex Jones defamation trial begins hearing testimony on punitive damages

Written by Javed Iqbal

Aug 5 (Reuters) – Lawyers for the parents of a child killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting began presenting evidence of Alex Jones’ wealth as they seek punitive damages on top of the $4.1 million awarded by a jury in Texas for the American conspiracy theorist’s false claims that the massacre was a hoax.

Forensic economist Bernard Pettingill testified Friday on behalf of the parents of slain 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, who say they suffered years of harassment after Jones spread lies about the killing of 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown . Connecticut, December 14, 2012.

“He promulgated some hate speech and some misinformation, but he made a lot of money, and he made money from it,” Pettingill said, describing Jones as a “very successful man.”

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A 12-person jury said Thursday that Jones must pay the parents $4.1 million in damages for spreading conspiracy theories about the massacre. That verdict followed a two-week trial in Austin, Texas, where Jones’ radio show and webcast Infowars is based.

Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis testified that Jones’ supporters harassed them for years in the false belief that the parents were lying about their son’s death.

Jones tried to distance himself from the conspiracy theories during his testimony, apologizing to the parents and acknowledging that Sandy Hook was “100% real.”

Jones’ company, Free Speech Systems LLC, filed for bankruptcy last week. Jones said during a Monday broadcast that the filing will help the company stay afloat while it appeals.

The bankruptcy filing put on hold a similar libel suit by Sandy Hook parents in Connecticut, where, like in Texas, he has already been found liable.

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Reporting by Jack Queen; Editing by Howard Goller and Mark Porter

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Javed Iqbal

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