A defiant Alex Jones showed up at a Connecticut court on Tuesday declaring his innocence despite already being found liable for spreading the claim that the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax.
A jury seated about 30 kilometres from Sandy Hook has been hearing evidence for a week to determine how much Jones must pay the families of eight victims and an FBI agent who was among the first to respond to the shooting that took the lives of 20 children and six educators.
Jones only spent a few minutes at the courthouse, accompanied by one of his lawyers, and repeating declarations he made last week on his Infowars web show that the proceeding is nothing more than a “show trial”.
“This is a travesty of justice and this judge is a tyrant,” Jones said outside the courthouse.
“This judge is ordering me to say that I’m guilty and to say that I’m a liar. None of that is true. I was not wrong about Sandy Hook on purpose. I questioned it.”
Judge Barbara Bellis found Jones and Infowars’ parent company Free Speech Systems liable by default last year without a trial as punishment for what she called his repeated failures to turn over documents to the Sandy Hook lawyers.
Jones has complained that he was found “guilty” without trials.
There is no guilt in civil trials such as this one in Connecticut, or one last month in Texas, where a jury awarded nearly $50 million in damages to the parents of one of the children killed in the shooting.
The judge “has now ordered me to not say I’m not innocent and ordered me to say that I have not profited from Sandy Hook”, Jones said on Tuesday.
“That’s ordering me to perjure myself. I will not perjure myself under the order of a judge.”
He added that he is not being allowed to present a defence arguing that he is not liable, including that the First Amendment gave him the right to say the shooting didn’t happen and raise questions about it.
The plaintiffs say Jones’s promotion of the hoax lie on his Infowars show led to the families being threatened and harassed by deniers of the shooting.
They say they’ve endured death threats and in-person harassment, video recording by strangers and abusive comments on social media. Some families moved out of Newtown to avoid the harassment.
Jones, who has said over the past few years that he believes the shooting did happen, also bashed the Texas trial on his show.