Infowars host Alex Jones’s bid to decrease the millions of dollars in damages he’s required to pay to the family of a 6-year-old killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting was rejected by a Texas judge on Tuesday.
In August, a Texas jury determined that Jones and his company, Free Speech Systems LLC—Infowars’ parent company—must pay $4.1 million in compensatory damages and $45.2 million in punitive damages to Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis as part of a defamation lawsuit.
Jesse was among the 20 children and six adults killed on Dec. 14, 2012, in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The gunman, Adam Lanza, who had earlier killed his mother, later died by suicide.
The ruling came after public claims Jones made about the mass shooting. Specifically, Jones had said that the mainstream media and gun-control activists had colluded to stage the shooting using “crisis actors” in an effort to enact tighter gun-control measures.
His claims cast doubt on the mass shooting among listeners of his show.
Jones has since acknowledged the shooting took place and said he attempted to correct the claims that he initially made, but that “[the media] won’t let me take it back.”
Jones had contested the $4.5 million in compensatory damages and $45.2 million in punitive damages awarded to the plaintiffs, and his lawyers had argued that a 1995 Texas law limiting types of damages meant the amount should be cut by roughly $40 million.
However, lawyers for Heslin and Lewis argued that the cap does not apply, citing the ” intentional abuse of a disabled person” and stating that their son’s death counted as a disability.
In a hearing Tuesday, Travis County District Court Judge Maya Guerra Gamble agreed, ruling that Jones must pay the amount in full, calling the verdict a “rare case” in which Heslin and Lewis had experienced emotional damage that was so severe that “I believe they have no recourse,” The New York Times reported.
‘Vile Chapter of American History’
Heslin and Lewis had testified on Aug. 4 that they had been sent death threats and experienced harassment over the years by people who believed the claims made by Jones that Sandy Hook was a hoax.
“Our clients are pleased that the jury’s verdict was upheld in totality and my remaining clients look forward to closing out this vile chapter of American history by continuing to hold Mr. Jones accountable,” Heslin and Lewis’ attorney, Mark Bankston, told Reuters following Tuesday’s hearing.
An attorney for Jones told the publication that the ruling goes against “decades of precedent” and that he will appeal.
In a separate legal case, Jones asked a Connecticut judge last month to throw out a nearly $1 billion verdict against him and order a new trial in a lawsuit by Sandy Hook victims’ relatives.
Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.