Alex Jones has been portrayed by a lawyer for Sandy Hook families as a bully and by his own lawyer as a maniac who should be ignored as a trial begins to determine how much the conspiracy theorist should pay relatives for spreading the lie that the school. the shooting was a hoax.
The trial is being held in Waterbury, Connecticut, less than 20 miles from Newtown, where 26 children and teachers were shot to death in 2012.
This is the second such trial for Jones, who was ordered by a Texas jury last month to pay almost $50m (£43m) to the parents of one of the children killed.
Jones was not in court Tuesday but is expected to appear next week.
A jury of three men and three women along with several alternatives will decide how much Jones must pay the relatives of the eight victims and an FBI agent who responded to the school. Judge Barbara Bellis found Jones liable without trial last year after he failed to turn over documents to the families’ lawyers.
More than a dozen family members, including parents of several victims, filed into the courtroom to hear opening statements and the first day of evidence.
Christopher Mattei, an attorney for the plaintiffs, showed jurors data showing how Jones’ audience grew as he spread lies about the shooting.
He showed photos and videos of things Jones had said and told the panel they already had the tools from their own life experiences to decide what to do in the case.
“What your parents taught you, what your grandparents taught you to know the difference between right and wrong, to know the difference between the truth and a terrible lie, to know the importance of standing up to bullies when they prey on people who are helpless . and taking advantage of them, and knowing if you don’t stop a bully, a bully will never be stopped,” he said.
“And when it comes to stopping Alex Jones, that’s going to be the most important thing you do.”
Jones’ attorney, Norm Pattis, argued that his client has espoused a variety of conspiracy theories over the years, which he has a constitutional right to do.
“At what point do we regard him as a maniac on the village green, a person we can walk away from if we choose?” he asked.
Mr Pattis told the jury that although Jones is liable for damages, any award should be minimal and claimed the families were overestimating the harm they say Jones caused them.
On his Infowars web show Tuesday, Jones portrayed himself as a victim of the show’s unfair trials.
“How am I handling it? We are at war. This is total tyranny,” he said.
“I will tell you this, we can appeal this for years. We can beat this. We can stay on the air in whatever they’re doing if we keep fighting and don’t give up. But it takes massive money to fight three lawsuits in Texas and Connecticut.”
Judge Bellis sanctioned Jones on Tuesday for failing to submit analytics data about his website and the popularity of his show. She told his lawyers that because of that failure, they won’t be allowed to argue that he didn’t profit from his Sandy Hook words.
The trial is expected to last about a month and include testimony from Jones and the families.
The Sandy Hook families and former FBI agent William Aldenberg say they were confronted and harassed for years by people who believed Jones’ false claim that the shootings were staged by crisis actors as part of a conspiracy to take people’s guns away.
Jones, whose web show and Infowars brand are based in Austin, Texas, has been banned by YouTube, Facebook and Spotify for violating their hate speech policies.
Jones now says he believes the shooting was real. At the Texas trial, he said he realized what he said was irresponsible and hurt people’s feelings and apologized.