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A jury will decide if Alex Jones has to pay punitive damages to Sandy Hook parents

Alex Jones attempts to answer questions about his text messages during the Sandy Hook trial in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday.
Briana Sanchez
Austin American-Statesman via AP
Alex Jones attempts to answer questions about his text messages during the Sandy Hook trial in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday.

InfoWars host Alex Jones returns to court Friday for his defamation trial, where he is being sued for falsely saying the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting was a hoax.

The jury will decide if Jones has to pay punitive damages to Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of Sandy Hook first-grader Jesse Lewis, who was gunned down along with 25 other children and school staffers at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Conn.

Jones was ordered Thursday to pay $4.1 million in compensatory damages to the couple, who said they received death threats and were harassed due to Jones's false claims that the federal government orchestrated the shooting to crack down on guns. Heslin and Lewis are seeking $150 million in damages in their lawsuit.

Jones said in 2015 on his InfoWars radio show that "Sandy Hook is synthetic, completely fake with actors, in my view, manufactured."

"I am a mother, first and foremost, and I know that you're a father. And my son existed," Lewis said to Jones on Thursday. "You're still on your show implying that I'm an actress, that I'm deep state, and I don't understand. Truth is so vital to our world."

Jones conceded Wednesday that the shooting, the deadliest at an elementary school in U.S. history, was not a fabricated event.

The conspiracy theorist has been booted off Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other mainstream platforms over hate speech and lies. But Infowars is still broadcast on many radio stations, and its website still attracts a millions of visitors each month.

In this next phase of Jones' trial, lawyers for the the parents are expected to say that Jones is hiding millions of dollars in assets.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ayana Archie