Jury deliberations underway in Sandy Hook case

After hearing seven days of evidence and a range of witnesses, jurors have begun deliberations to determine how much money InfoWars host Alex Jones must pay to the parents of 6-year-old Sandy Hook shooting victim Jesse Lewis for his campaign to portray the school attack as a hoax.

The matter was handed to jurors late Wednesday afternoon, and state District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble said she doubted they would get beyond selecting a foreperson and reading the jury charge before the courthouse closed at 5 pm

The real work begins today.

Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis have asked jurors for $150 million in compensation for actual damages, saying Jones portrayal of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting as a hoax meant to justify a government crackdown on guns — and parents as liars or collaborators — inspired harassment and death threats from Jones followers and made it impossible to heal from the tragedy.

Jones’ lawyer, Andino Reynal, asked jurors to award a total of $8 — $1 for each of the eight harms the court has already found Jones and his main company, Free Speech Systems, to have inflicted on Jesse’s parents.

More:‘My son existed.’ Mother of Sandy Hook shooting victim speaks directly to Alex Jones

At least 10 of the 12 jurors must agree on a verdict. The four alternates, two more than typical due to the pandemic and the length of the two-week trial, were dismissed Thursday.

Kyle Farrar, lawyers representing Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, gives closing arguments Wednesday Aug.  3, 2022, at the Travis County Courthouse.  Heslin and Lewis are seeking two awards of $150 million from Austin-based conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.  Jones has been found to have defamed the parents of a Sandy Hook student for calling the attack a hoax.

Before hearing closing arguments Thursday, jurors were informed that Jones and Free Speech Systems defamed Heslin in two 2017 InfoWars reports that questioned his claim that he held his dead son and saw the bullet wound to his head after the shooting. Heslin testified that he made the statement in an NBC interview in hopes of stopping Jones’ campaign and protect the legacy of his son, who died a hero by yelling “Run!” when the gunman paused. Nine students fled; Jesse did not.

More:Alex Jones says trial is a ‘kangaroo runs’

Jurors are to determine the amount of money that would fairly compensate Heslin for past and future damage to his reputation and past and future mental anguish caused by the defamatory reports.

Jurors also were told that Jones and his company inflicted intentional emotional distress on Heslin and Lewis by repeatedly portraying the Sandy Hook shooting as a hoax from 2012 to 2018, when they filed suit. Each parent can be compensated for past and future mental anguish.

Andino Reynal, Alex Jones' lawyer, gives closing arguments Wednesday Aug.  3, 2022, at the Travis County Courthouse in Austin.  Jones has been found to have defamed the parents of a Sandy Hook student for calling the attack a hoax.

In his closing arguments, parents lawyer Kyle Farrar reminded jurors that they were asked during jury selection whether they could approve a damages award of $100 million or more. Those who could not were weeded out during the selection process, he said.

“This is your opportunity to hold Alex Jones accountable for the harm he did,” Farrar said.

Reynal said the parents, their expert witnesses and their lawyers failed to prove that they were actually and directly harmed by Jones’ words.

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