Opening Statements Begin in Federal Trial of Paul Pelosi’s Attacker

SAN FRANCISCO—Opening statements began Nov. 11 for the federal trial of David DePape, who has been accused of attacking Paul Pelosi with a hammer.
Opening Statements Begin in Federal Trial of Paul Pelosi’s Attacker
The husband of former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Paul Pelosi (R), fights for control of a hammer with his assailant David DePape during a brutal attack in the couple’s San Francisco home on Oct. 28, 2022, in a still from police body-camera video. (San Francisco Police Department via AP)
Lear Zhou
SAN FRANCISCO—Opening statements began Nov. 11 for the federal trial of David DePape, who has been accused of breaking into the home of Paul Pelosi, the husband of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and attacking him with a hammer.
The alleged attack took place on Oct. 28, 2022.
In the opening statements, the defense attorney depicted the defendant’s inner world by trying to explain to 17 jurors why her client committed the act.
“Mr. DePape’s plan is not Nancy Pelosi and her congressional role,” defense attorney Jodi Linker said. “It’s only the first step of a larger plan to stop the molestation of children, to end corruption, and to preserve the truth.”
Ms. Linker said the larger plan included a list of names, such as actor Tom Hanks, the president’s son Hunter Biden, billionaire George Soros, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom. She said Mr. DePape believes that the powerful elite cabal has been using the Democratic Party as a weapon, using mainstream media as a means to spread lies, promoting child molestation, and destroying liberty.
“Members of the jury, many of us do not believe any of that,” Ms. Linker said. “But the evidence in this trial will show that Mr. DePape believes all these things ... with every ounce of his being.”
Mr. DePape, 43, has been charged with two federal crimes: assault on an immediate family member of a federal official and attempted kidnapping of a federal official. He has pleaded not guilty to both charges.
The trial started with federal prosecutors laying out video footage and photos of the hammer attack, including of Mr. Pelosi on the ground in a pool of his own blood as well as body camera footage of the attack from a police officer responding at the scene.
Laura Vartain Horn, the leading federal prosecutor, described the attack as a meticulously prepared conspiracy to kidnap Ms. Pelosi and hold her hostage. She said Mr. DePape attacked Mr. Pelosi after warning him, “You stop me from going after evil, you will take the punishment instead.”
Ms. Horn displayed a digital document the FBI obtained by searching Mr. DePape’s electronic devices, with the address of the Pelosis’ Nob Hill residence in it.
More details were revealed in court in the cross-examining of witnesses, including police officers and investigators.
SFPD Officer Alejandro Najarro, who responded at the Pelosis’ residence later on Oct. 28, 2022, and searched Mr. DePape when he was already detained, said he found three pieces of paper in the defendant’s pocket with the Pelosis’ address and the address and phone number of “Target 1.”
It was confirmed in the court that the person referred to in the federal indictment as “Target 1” is Bay Area scholar Gayle Rubin, a leading academic in feminist theory and queer studies.
Mr. DePape was allegedly intent on holding Ms. Pelosi hostage to lure out “Target 1” “because he believes she is promoting child molestation,” according to Ms. Linker.
Footage from Officer Najarro’s body camera captured the voice of Mr. Pelosi answering questions, minutes from the time he was hit by a hammer in the head and knocked unconscious.
Carla Hurley, sergeant of the SFPD investigation division, confirmed in court that she assigned an officer to get a statement from Mr. Pelosi in the hospital the same day the attack happened.
Ms. Hurley also interrogated Mr. DePape that day in the hospital. Mr. DePape was brought to the hospital because his right shoulder was dislocated when he was tackled by responding officers.
Another video from Mr. Najarro’s body camera showed that Mr. DePape mumbled to the paramedics outside the Pelosi residence: “All the lies in Washington D.C., I didn’t want to hurt the man, the [expletive] is going on in D.C. is.”
The defense attorney stated in court that the first 20 minutes after Mr. DePape broke into the Pelosi residence, he didn’t harm Mr. Pelosi; he only did so after the police officers knocked on the door.
In two body camera videos, one of the responding officers orders him to “drop the hammer” after finding Mr. DePape and Mr. Pelosi holding onto the same hammer.
Responding officers Kolby Willmes and Kyle Cagney testified in court that they responded to the location of the Pelosi residence through a dispatcher with “A” priority, which means performing well-being checks.
When the door opened, there was no immediate tension, the officers agreed.
One of the defense attorneys asked Mr. Cagney, “Everything changed when Willmes said, ‘Drop the hammer’?”
He answered, “Yes.”
Footage showed Mr. DePape grabbing the hammer with both hands and striking Mr. Pelosi hard in the head with the hammer using his right hand.
“That was the trigger; Mr. DePape did something terrific,” Ms. Linker said about the moment. “It did not matter who it was; in that moment, when Paul Pelosi grabbed the hammer, his plan to protect the country, protect the children, to stop the lies, will end.”
Lyn O’Connor, acting lieutenant of SFPD Crime Scene Investigation, testified that she collected from the Pelosis’ patio a sleeping bag and two backpacks Mr. DePape allegedly brought with him. Items in the backpacks included zip ties, a sledgehammer, gloves, duct tape, thousands of dollars in cash, a Canadian passport, and a Canadian birth certificate.
Mr. DePape’s ex-wife and his two sons were in the courtroom. One of the Pelosis’ daughters, Christine Pelosi, was also there.
Ms. Rubin and the Pelosi couple are expected to testify in court next week.