The man accused of bludgeoning former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s husband with a hammer was caught up in conspiracies when he broke into her San Francisco home last year, his defense attorney said, as his trial opened on Thursday.
David DePape, a former nudist from British Columbia, entered the Pelosi home through a back door in the early hours of October 28, 2022, and attacked Paul Pelosi with a hammer. Nancy was not home at the time.
Paul Pelosi, then 82, had called the police, speaking carefully so as not to enrage DePape, who was in the house. Police arrived in time to see DePape smash a hammer into Pelosi’s head, leaving him with a fractured skull.
DePape pleaded not guilty to attempted kidnapping of a federal official, and assault on the immediate family member of a federal official with intent to retaliate against the official for performance of their duties.
His lawyers on Thursday argued that DePape – who has struggled with drugs and posts crazed COVID conspiracy theories, anti-Semitic rants, racist slurs and unhinged screeds about religion online – did not try and stop Nancy Pelosi from doing her job.
David DePape, 43, went on trial on Thursday accused of attempting to kidnap Nancy Pelosi. He admitted to breaking into the Pelosis’ San Francisco residence with the intention of getting the senior Democrat to acknowledge her party’s ‘lies’ on pain of smashing her kneecaps. She was not home at the time
DePape is seen on Thursday in court in San Francisco
The husband of former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Paul Pelosi, right, fights for control of a hammer with his assailant David DePape on October 28, 2022
Finding only her then-82-year-old husband at home, DePape engaged in what he told officers was a ‘pretty amicable’ exchange, during which Paul Pelosi, pictured, managed to call for help from law enforcement
Defense attorney Jodi Linker said she won’t dispute that her client attacked Paul Pelosi, an encounter caught on police body camera video.
Instead, she will argue that he believed ‘with every ounce of his being’ that he was taking action to stop government corruption and the abuse of children by politicians and actors.
‘This is not a ‘whodunit,” she told the jury.
‘But what the government fails to acknowledge is the ‘whydunit,’ and the why matters in this case.’
The crux of Linker’s argument is that DePape is not guilty of the charges because he was not after Nancy Pelosi to try to stop her from engaging in her official duties.
‘These beliefs matter because both charges require that the government prove that Mr. DePape acted because of her performance of her official duties as a member of Congress,’ Linker said.
She said DePape’s beliefs are ‘wholly unrelated to Nancy Pelosi’s official duties.’
Federal prosecutor Laura Vartain Horn told jurors that DePape started planning the attack in August and that the evidence and FBI testimony will show he researched his targets online, collecting phone numbers and addresses, even paying for a public records service to find information about Nancy Pelosi and others.
During her opening statement, Vartain Horn showed a photo of Paul Pelosi lying in a pool of blood.
A screenshot of security footage shows DePape outside the Pelosi home at 5am
Aerial footage showed broken panes and shattered glass at the backdoor of Pelosi’s home
The Pelosis own a four-bedroom San Francisco home that sits in the middle of her congressional district and was purchased in 2007 for $2.2 million but is thought to be worth at least $6 million now
Body camera image from San Francisco police show suspect DePape with Paul Pelosi at the Pelosi’s San Francisco home
Paul Pelosi was hit multiple times with the hammer leaving him unconscious as the officers rushed in and arrested DePape
She also played a call DePape made to a television station repeating conspiracy theories.
‘The evidence in this case is going show that when the defendant used this hammer to break into the Pelosi’s home he intended to kidnap Nancy Pelosi,’ Vartain Horn said, holding a hammer inside a plastic evidence bag.
Prosecutors showed body camera video of DePape admitting to the attack while speaking to police and paramedics outside the Pelosis’ home.
‘There is no denying what I did. Cops watched me do it,’ he said.
Paul Pelosi is expected to testify next week.
DePape posted rants on a blog and an online forum about aliens, communists, religious minorities, and global elites.
He questioned the results of the 2020 election and echoed the baseless, right-wing QAnon conspiracy theory that claims the U.S. government is run by a cabal of devil-worshipping pedophiles. The websites were taken down shortly after his arrest.
If convicted, he faces life in prison.
He also has pleaded not guilty to charges in state court of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, residential burglary and other felonies.
A state trial has not been scheduled.
In the courtroom Thursday were Christine Pelosi, one of the Pelosis’ daughters, as well as Gypsy Taub, DePape’s ex-girlfriend, and Taub’s and DePape’s two sons.
Nebosvod ‘Sky’ Gonzalez, David DePape’s son, speaks with reporters outside the Phillip Burton Federal Building on Thursday
Gypsy Taub, David DePape’s ex-girlfriend, is seen outside court on Thursday
Taub called DePape’s name softly and blew a kiss, and he smiled and waved in return.
A Canadian citizen, DePape moved to the United States more than 20 years ago after falling in love with Taub, a Berkeley pro-nudity activist well-known in the Bay Area, his stepfather, Gene DePape said.
In recent years, David DePape had been homeless and struggling with drug abuse and mental illness, Taub told local media.
After his arrest, DePape, 43, allegedly told a San Francisco detective that he wanted to hold Nancy Pelosi hostage.
He said that if she told him the truth, he would let her go and if she lied, he was going to ‘break her kneecaps’ to show other members of Congress there were ‘consequences to actions,’ according to prosecutors.
DePape, who lived in a garage in the Bay Area city of Richmond and had been doing odd carpentry jobs to support himself, allegedly told authorities he had other targets, including a women’s and queer studies professor, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, actor Tom Hanks and President Joe Biden’s son Hunter.
The professor, who is also expected to testify next week, was DePape’s main target and DePape went to the Pelosis’ home to have Nancy Pelosi ‘lure her out,’ Linker said.
San Francisco Police Acting Lt. O’Connor, who helped process the crime scene, testified she collected a sleeping bag and two backpacks from the Pelosis’ patio that DePape allegedly brought with him.
Items in the backpacks included a sledgehammer, zip ties, gloves, duct tape, cash, a Canadian passport, a Canadian birth certificate, men’s clothes, a video game console, and two inflatable, multicolor unicorn costumes.
‘I’m a friend of theirs’ – Paul Pelosi’s harrowing 911 call is released
The 911 call shows Paul Pelosi trying to alert the dispatcher to who he is and the danger he’s in, as he says, ‘There’s a gentleman here just waiting for my wife to come back, Nancy Pelosi.’
David DePape’s voice can be heard multiple times on the harrowing call as at one point he identifies himself as a friend of the Pelosi’s.
The 911 call in full:
Dispatcher: San Francisco Police 74.
Paul: Uh, I guess I called by mistake. Who is this?
Dispatcher: This is San Francisco police, do you need help?
Paul: Oh well, there’s a gentlemen here just waiting for me wife to come back, Nancy Pelosi. He’s just waiting for her to come back but she’s not going to be here for a days so I guess he’ll just have to wait.
Dispatcher: Okay, do you need police, fire or medical for anything?
Paul: I don’t think so. I don’t think so… Is the Capitol police around, do you know? They’re usually here at the house protecting my wife.
Dispatcher: No, this is San Francisco police.
Paul: I know. I understand. Okay, well what do you think?
David DePape: I think everything’s good.
Paul: He thinks everything’s good but I’ve got a problem. He thinks everything’s good.
Dispatcher: Okay. Call us back if you change your mind.
Paul: No, no. This gentleman just came into the house and wants to wait here for my wife to come home… (inaudible)
Dispatcher: Do you know who this person is?
Paul: No, I don’t know who he is. He’s telling me not to, not to do anything.
Dispatcher: What is your address, sir?
Paul: 2640 Broadway.
Dispatcher: What is your name?
Paul: My name is Paul Pelosi. Anyway, this gentleman, he’s telling me… He’s telling me to put the phone down and I should do what he says. Okay?
Dispatcher: What’s the gentleman’s name?
DePape: My name is David.
Paul: The name is David.
Dispatcher: Okay, and who is David?
Paul: I don’t know.
DePape: I’m a friend of theirs.
Paul: Yeah, he says he’s a friend.
Dispatcher: But you don’t know who he is?
Paul: No, ma’am.
Paul: He’s telling me I’m being very leading so I gotta stop talking to you, okay?
Dispatcher: You sure? I can stay on the phone with you just to make sure everything’s okay?
Paul: No, he wants me to get the hell off the phone. Okay?
Paul: Thank you.