Paul Pelosi testifies in federal trial of David DePape, accused in hammer attack

Paul Pelosi took the stand Monday afternoon in the federal trial of David DePape, accused of attacking the husband of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a hammer at the couple’s San Francisco home in October 2022.

At the start of his testimony, Pelosi said there are surveillance cameras inside the couple’s Pacific Heights home as well as an alarm system. However, on the night of the attack, Pelosi said he didn’t set the alarm because he only set it when he left the house. 

DePape has 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 the performance of their duties.

Prosecutors say DePape bludgeoned Paul Pelosi with a hammer in the early hours of Oct. 28, 2022, just days before that year’s midterm elections.

The hammer attack on Paul Pelosi fractured his skull and left him with serious injuries to his right arm and hands. He underwent surgery following the assault and has since largely recovered. In January, Nancy Pelosi said it would be several months before her husband would be fully back to normal.

Earlier Monday, a number of law enforcement officials testified about the attack and the investigation, including two FBI agents – one who collected the electronics DePape was carrying and another who presented surveillance video of DePape’s movements on BART and San Francisco Muni hours before the attack.

Other testimony came from a U.S. Capitol police officer who watches the surveillance cameras at the Pelosis’ home and another who has protected Nancy Pelosi since 2006. U.S. Capitol Special Agent Dwight Littlejohn arrived at the start of his 6 a.m. shift at the Speaker’s DC residence on Oct. 28 and learned about the assault on Paul Pelosi; both departed to San Francisco later that day. 

Some of the witnesses helped verify time stamps on footage from surveillance cameras at the Pelosis’ home, which are set to Eastern Time, and on BART trains, which were an hour behind Pacific Time.

Prosecutors exhibited surveillance video of DePape smashing through the glass patio door of the home, as well as slow-motion body camera footage of the attack from one of the officers who responded to Paul Pelosi’s 911 call. DePape’s lawyers had argued against allowing a slow-motion version of the attack video

Another witness was the chief legal officer for Spokeo, a search engine that allows people to look up personal addresses and contact information from online and offline sources. Jason Matthes testified that DePape searched for Nancy Pelosi’s information seven days before the attack.

Defense attorney Jodi Linker told jurors last week that she won’t dispute that DePape attacked Paul Pelosi in 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. She said that means the government’s charges that DePape was trying to retaliate or interfere with Nancy Pelosi’s official duties don’t fit.

Federal prosecutor Laura Vartain Horn told jurors during opening statements Thursday 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.

If convicted, DePape 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.

Federal prosecutors say after DePape smashed his shoulder through a glass panel on a door in the back of the Pelosi mansion, he confronted a sleeping Paul Pelosi, who was wearing boxer shorts and a pajama top.

Still from police bodycam video released by San Francisco Superior Court showing suspect David DePape and Paul Pelosi appearing to hold a hammer.

San Francisco Superior Court

“Where’s Nancy? Where’s Nancy?” DePape asked, standing over Paul Pelosi around 2 a.m. holding a hammer and zip ties, according to court records. Nancy Pelosi was in Washington and under the protection of her security detail, which does not extend to family members.  

After his arrest, DePape, 43, allegedly told a San Francisco detective that he wanted to hold Nancy Pelosi hostage. He said 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. 

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