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David DePape is On Trial, Accused of Attacking Paul Pelosi in His Home. Here’s What to Know

Opening statements began Thursday, Nov. 9, in the federal trial of David DePape. The 43-year-old was charged in the October 2022 hammer attack on former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul, in the couple’s San Francisco home.

He has pleaded not guilty and has remained in custody.

While DePape’s attorneys had tried to get the trial moved from San Francisco, saying it would be difficult to get a fair trial because local media attention on the case had tainted the jury pool, Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley rejected their effort

Jury selection started Monday, Nov. 6. Paul Pelosi, who suffered a fractured skull and other injuries in the attack, is expected to testify, as is a witness whose identity is being protected by the court, known only as “Target 1.

Who is David DePape?

David Wayne DePape is a resident of Richmond, a small city near Berkeley in California’s Bay Area. At the time of the attack, authorities said, he was living in a garage.

When authorities searched that home, they found two hammers, a sword, and a pair of rubber and cloth gloves, according to court documents. They also allegedly found paperwork from the California Department of Motor Vehicles and the IRS as well as Paypal credit cards.

A Canadian citizen, DePape may have been in the country illegally, and the Department of Homeland Security reportedly issued what’s known as a detainer, or a request to take a person arrested for a crime into their custody after they are released by law enforcement, after his arrest.

What is David DePape charged with?

The FBI and San Francisco Police Department confirmed they had a suspect in custody on Oct. 28, 2022, the same day Paul Pelosi was attacked.  

DePape was charged with two federal felonies: attempted kidnapping of a federal officer or employee and assault of an immediate family member of a federal official. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison on the first charge and 30 years in prison on the second charge.

He also faces separate state charges that include attempted murder, residential burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, threats to a public official and others that carry potential penalties of more than 13 years to life in prison. He has also pleaded not guilty to those.

What happened during the attack on Paul Pelosi?

According to court documents, Paul Pelosi called 911 shortly before 2:30 a.m., saying a man he didn’t know had broken into his home and was looking for his wife.

Both DePape and Pelosi recounted the incident to police the night it happened, court documents state. 

DePape told police he broke into the home through a glass back patio door. According to the complaint, Pelosi was awoken by DePape, who came into his bedroom and said he wanted to talk to Nancy, meaning his wife, Nancy Pelosi, who was in Washington, D.C., at the time. When Pelosi said his wife was not there, DePape told him he would sit and wait for her, he told police. Pelosi said he was able to call 911 from the bathroom.

When police arrived a few minutes later, they found Pelosi and DePape both gripping a hammer, with DePape holding Pelosi’s arm, according to the complaint. 

Bodycam video later released by the court shows police asking them to drop the hammer, DePape pulling it away from Pelosi and then hitting him in the head. The complaint states Pelosi was unconscious on the ground as police restrained DePape. 

DePape later told police he was going to hold Nancy Pelosi hostage, threatening to break her kneecaps if she lied as a warning to other members of Congress, and to use her to lure someone else, referred to as Target 1, according to the complaint.

According to the complaint, police found a roll of tape, white rope, a hammer, a pair of rubber and cloth gloves, and a journal in DePape’s backpack at the scene. They also found zip ties in Pelosi’s bedroom, which DePape told police he wanted to use tie Pelosi up. 

How are conspiracy theories linked to the case?

DePape appears to have discussed multiple conspiracy theories online, including ones related to voter fraud, climate change and the COVID pandemic. He has also posted antisemitic rants along with defenses of former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Posts also focus on censorship by government and tech companies, and include memes about the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Posts also made reference to QAnon, an online movement supportive of Trump that, among other things, claims a global cabal of pedophiles and Satan-worshipers known as the “deep state” run America and engage in child sex trafficking.

DePape was “out of touch with reality” and estranged from reality, relatives told CNN at the time.

CBS News Bay Area reported San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins had addressed misinformation circulating about the incident, saying she was also aware of a tweet by billionaire Elon Musk that promoted a baseless claim about the attack. Musk later deleted the tweet.

“I think there needs to be a respect for what that family has endured, what Mr. Pelosi has endured and is recovering from,” Jenkins said.

In the defense’s opening statement, his attorney referenced a litany of fringe and QAnon-related ideas he said played into DePape’s belief in a “sinister cabal” of people running — and ruining — the country and fueled his attack on Pelosi.

What evidence has been released to the public?

A judge earlier this year allowed the release of body-worn camera video and audio of the attack from the San Francisco Police Department, audio of Pelosi’s 911 call, and a portion of an interview with DePape as well as video from a security camera outside the Pelosis’ home.

The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office objected to releasing the evidence, citing concerns about the spread of misinformation. DePape’s attorney had also opposed the release, particularly the video, citing concerns it would affect his ability to get a fair trial.

“Releasing this footage is disrespectful to Mr. Pelosi, and serves no purpose except to feed the public desire for spectacle and violence. The footage is inflammatory and could feed unfounded theories about this case, and we are extremely concerned about Mr. DePape’s ability to get a fair trial,” said public defender Adam Lipson.

What has Nancy Pelosi said about the attack?

Nancy Pelosi said in the past that she didn’t know if she would watch the video. It shows the attack in graphic detail.

“I mean, it would be a very hard thing to see an assault on my husband’s life,” she told reporters in January.

In the wake of the attack, shortly before the 2022 elections, she told a group of supporters on a call: “People say to me, ‘What can I do to make you feel better?’ I say: ‘Vote!'” 

She was emotional talking about her husband’s condition at the time. “It’s going to be a long haul,” she said of his recovery.

Pelosi was released from the hospital a week after the attack. At that time, the congresswoman said he would remain under a doctor’s care during what she described as “a long recovery process and convalescence.”

One of the Pelosis’ daughters, Alexandra, told CBS News in December that her father’s recovery had been slow and steady.

“He’s getting better every day, thank you for asking,” she said in response to a question from CBS News’ John Dickerson. “The scars are healing. I mean, he looks like Frankenstein. The scars are healing. But I think the emotional scars, uh, I don’t know if those ever heal.

“I mean, that’s tough. It’s really tough. I don’t think it’s OK for an 82-year-old man to be attacked in his home in the middle of the night because of whatever his wife does for work.” 

Source : CBS