AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones wasn’t in court Wednesday as his attorneys argued that the “Infowars” host who has called the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting a hoax didn’t defame one victim’s parents who say they’ve been tormented by his followers and forced to move seven times.
The hearing included more than a half-hour of an Infowars episode played for a Texas judge, who at one point told onlookers to remain silent after some gasped when a lawyer for the parents said Infowars showed maps to the home of Veronique De La Rosa and Leonard Pozner.
Their 6-year-old son, Noah Pozner, was among the 20 children and six adults killed in the Newtown, Connecticut, massacre. They have sued Jones for defamation in a case that centers on the host falsely claiming on Infowars that De La Rosa taped an interview with CNN in front of a studio green screen and not outside a town hall in Newtown.
The lawsuit was filed in Travis County, Texas, where Jones’ media company is based.
The parents contend that Jones had made them part of the Sandy Hook conspiracy in what is one of two defamation lawsuits that the Infowars host is trying to throw out this week. On Thursday, his attorneys will also ask for the dismissal of another case brought by a man falsely identified on the Infowars website as the gunman who killed 17 people at a Florida high school in February.
Jones has since admitted the Sandy Hook shooting occurred and his attorney, Mark Enoch, began the hearing by saying that his client wanted “to reiterate the fact that he is sorry for their loss.” But Enoch said the lawsuit doesn’t rise to the level of defamation.
“Maybe it’s fringe speech. Maybe it’s dangerous speech,” Enoch said after playing portions of an Infowars episode. “But it’s not defamation. That is rhetorical hyperbole at its core.”
State District Judge Scott Jenkins has a month to decide whether to let the lawsuit proceed.
De La Rosa and Pozner also didn’t attend the nearly three-hour hearing, in which their attorney called claims that the CNN interview was taped “monstrously stupid” and said the family has been exposed to threats.
A similar lawsuit against Jones has also been filed in Connecticut. Several families in that suit say that Jones’ comments on Infowars have tormented them and subjected them to harassment and death threats by his followers, some of whom have accused them of being crisis actors. Jones has argued he was acting as a journalist.