The first of two trials for David DePape begins with opening statements today in federal court in San Francisco, as the man seen on video holding Paul Pelosi hostage last fall and hitting him with a hammer gets his first day in court.
DePape, an ex-partner of local nudist activist and conspiracy theorist Gypsy Taub, stands accused of breaking into the Pelosis' Pacific Heights home on the morning of October 28, 2022. According to police, DePape used a shoulder to break a pane of glass on a rear door of the home, entered the home, and found a sleeping Paul Pelosi, whom he proceeded to hold hostage as he demanded to see his wife, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
As we've heard already from evidence presented ahead of DePape's state trial, which has yet to occur, DePape allegedly spoke of "fighting tyranny" and wanting to confront Nancy about the "lies" she and Democrats have been telling. DePape also allegedly admitted under questioning to having a list of targets that also included the actor Tom Hanks, Governor Gavin Newsom, Hunter Biden, and feminist theorist/leather culture historian Dr. Gayle Rubin.
He also told police in an interview, of Pelosi, that he wanted to "break her kneecaps." DePape subsequently expounded on his intentions in a jailhouse phone interview with KTVU reporter Amber Lee. "I have an important message for everyone in America: You're welcome," DePape said.
"I want to apologize to everyone. I messed up," DePape went on. "What I did was really bad. I'm so sorry I didn't get more of them. It's my own fault. No one else is to blame. I should have come better prepared."
The Associated Press reports that the defense's witness list in the federal trial includes one of the alleged targets on the hit list, though their name is redacted. Witnesses also include Nancy Pelosi's local chief of staff, Daniel Bernal, and extremism and antisemitism researcher Elizabeth Yates.
The judge in the federal trial, U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley, has ruled that the jury may hear DePape's phone call with Lee, and they may view the police bodycam footage from the night of the attack — in which police arrived to find DePape in a physical struggle with the elder Pelosi in the foyer of the home.
DePape and Pelosi are seen struggling over the hammer, and DePape is then seen quickly lurching to gain control, and the blow to the head occurs off camera, followed by footage of Pelosi on the ground, bleeding, and seeming to snore or struggle to breath.
Gypsy Taub, meanwhile, has latched on to the case as her latest conspiracy cause. In an email to local reporters last month, Taub was promoting a new TV show she is doing on public-access (Channel 76 in SF and Channel 28 in Berkeley) called "Paul Pelosi Cover Up."
"The TV series is dedicated to exposing the inconsistency of the official story about what happened at the house of Nancy Pelosi on October 28, 2022," Taub says.
She goes on to ask a series of questions about the bodycam footage and the circumstances of the crime. "How could [DePape] possibly trick surveillance cameras of local and federal police that were in charge of monitoring Nancy Pelosi's house? Why didn't Paul Pelosi leave the house when the police arrived?... Why is it that the video doesn't actually show the action?... How did Paul Pelosi and all his neighbors manage to sleep through the smashing of the window?"
Taub herself has admitted that DePape suffered from mental illness and had perhaps spiraled after becoming homeless in recent years. But apparently the prospect of trials and government being involved has gotten her conspiracy-theory hackles up.
A former employer of DePape, who hired him to do construction work and helped him find a rented space in a garage in Richmond where he was living, surmised that in the months before the attack, DePape had spent much of his free time on the internet at home, and had become radicalized through QAnon and other content.
In the federal trial, for which DePape already faces a life sentence, he is charged with attempted kidnapping of a federal official and assault on the immediate family member of a federal official. In his upcoming state trial, DePape faces charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, residential burglary and other felonies. He has pleaded guilty in both cases.
Update: As KPIX reports, in her opening statement, federal public defender Jodi Linker is essentially admitting to all of DePape's actions, but is blaming them on conspiracy theories which he "believes … with every ounce of his being."
"At the end of this trial, you will know that the reason he acted had nothing to do with Nancy Pelosi [and her] official duties as a member of Congress," Linker said, per KPIX. "The reason, the why of all of this, had everything to do with the ruling class engaged in corruption, the media spreading lies, and protecting children. [DePape] went to the Pelosi home to effectuate his plan as bizarre, misguided and unthoughtful as it was."