Some of the overwhelming evidence regarding David DePape's alleged October 28 attack on Paul Pelosi was presented in a preliminary hearing Wednesday in San Francisco attended by a whole lot of media.
It seems a foregone conclusion that we will see 42-year-old David DePape go to trial, likely twice — in state and federal courts — for the October attack. But the legal preliminaries have begun, and today's hearing included plenty of dramatic evidence no one in the media or public had known about before.
For instance, the New York Times reports that police revealed more of DePape's supposed "target" list, which reflects that rabid, conspiracy-laden, far-right-wing ideology he'd adopted through his exposure to the internet in recent years. (A recent former boss who'd given DePape work as a carpenter suggested he'd become radicalized not long after gaining the shelter, leisure time, and internet access that came with being employed, after a stint of homelessness.) These targets were discussed by DePape in a police interview conducted at his hospital bed, where he was treated for his injuries incurred during his arrest.
The list, as Lt. Carla Hurley of the SFPD testified, included Governor Gavin Newsom, Hunter Biden, actor Tom Hanks, and feminist theorist/leather culture historian Dr. Gayle Rubin — the latter we've quoted often here at SFist around Folsom Street Fair season. (Rubin, who as far as we know remains an associate professor at the University of Michigan, has lectured here in town on the SF leather scene but does not live here. Rubin's work has also apparently been swept up in the dark back alleys of QAnon conspiracies, because her seminal 1984 essay "Thinking Sex" once tried to intellectualize pedophilia — she wrote an essay in 2011 called "Rethinking Sex" in which she sought to clarify that her comments were misconstrued and taken out of context and she never imagined anyone would infer that she "supported the rape of pre-pubescents.")
Prosecutors also presented Pelosi's 911 call audio, as well as bodycam footage from one of the first officers present at the scene. As the Chronicle reports, police can be heard commanding DePape to drop a hammer he was holding over Pelosi's head, and he replies, "Uh, nope."
Disturbingly, per the Chron, "snoring" is apparently audible on the video, and that is presumably Pelosi who was knocked immediately unconscious by the blow from the hammer. SFPD Officer Kyle Cagney testified Wednesday that he saw Pelosi face down in a pool of blood, and Cagney said Pelosi did not regain consciousness while they were present.
As part of DePape's statements to police in that hospital interview, he allegedly said of Pelosi, "I had threatened him a couple of times but for the most part it was pretty amicable." He then described how he ultimately struck Pelosi "full force" with his hammer. Per NBC Bay Area, DePape also allegedly told Lt. Hurley, "There is evil in Washington, what they did went so far beyond the campaign."
The ultimate trial may hinge on how DePape's defense decides to frame his alleged actions — and it may hinge on whether a jury can be convinced of insanity-by-way-of-right-wing-internet, or some other line of reasoning. DePape's public defender, Adam Lipson, has not indicated either way about whether mental competency will be at play, however he made a comment outside a courtroom, per the Chronicle, suggesting he would be looking into DePape's "vulnerability to misinformation."
Per NBC Bay Area, Lipson told reporters outside the courtroom today, "We’ll be fighting this case in court, not in the hallway."
Proving that DePape was not guilty by reason of insanity may likely prove difficult given all that we already know. Under California law it would mean that he either was incapable of understanding the nature of his actions, or that he could not differentiate between right and wrong.
Pelosi survived the attack but spent six days hospitalized and will reportedly face a long recovery from his skull fracture. Pelosi was not reportedly present for today's hearing. Christine Pelosi, one of the Pelosis' five children, was reportedly in attendance.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was allegedly DePape's alleged target for a violent act, will remain Speaker only until the start of the next Congress, when colleague Hakeem Jeffries will take over as Minority Leader, and California Republican Kevin McCarthy is expected to assume the speakership.
Top image: Left: Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Image; right: California DMV via CNN