Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been told by a US jury to pay at least $4.1 million (£3.4 million) in compensation to parents of a child killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre after he falsely claimed it was a hoax.
Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin – the parents of Jesse, 6, who died alongside 19 of his classmates and staff at the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut – sued Mr Jones for $150 million in damages for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Following the two-week trial in Austin, Texas, where Mr Jones’s radio show and webcast Infowars are based, the jury found on Thursday that the far-right radio show host must pay Ms Lewis and Mr Heslin for the emotional distress and reputational damage caused by his false claims.
The amount that Mr Jones is ordered to pay could yet rise as the jury is also set to decide on Friday whether to award punitive damages for as much as $75 million.
Legal experts said the jury could still award the parents a large punitive damages verdict if they think Mr Jones’s conduct was not highly damaging but still worthy of punishment.
“We are very pleased with the verdict, and we are looking forward to the punitive damages phase that starts tomorrow,” Kyle Farrar, an attorney for the parents, said in an email.
Lawyers for Mr Jones did not immediately respond to a request for comment.