AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones wants a Texas judge to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed against him by families of some of the children killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

A hearing Wednesday in Austin is the first of two this week involving the “Infowars” host. He was sued after repeatedly claiming on his Austin-based show that the Connecticut shooting was a hoax. A gunman killed 20 first-graders and six educators at the Newtown, Connecticut, school on December 14, 2012.

Alex Jones (credit: Getty Images)

Jones now admits the shooting occurred but says his claims were free speech.

In the lawsuit the families claim Jones’ comments on his show questioning the shooting have tormented them and subjected them to harassment and death threats by his followers.

A similar lawsuit was filed in Connecticut. He’s also being sued by a man falsely identified on the Infowars website as the gunman who killed 17 people at a Florida high school in February.

Jones’ profile has spread from the far-right fringe in recent years. While running for president in 2015, Donald Trump told Jones his reputation was “amazing.”

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