In an unexpected move, the defense in the federal trial of David DePape called DePape to the stand Tuesday morning, and he became emotional as he discussed his conspiracy-theory-driven motives for attacking Paul Pelosi.
It seems like some sort of Hail Mary on the part of federal public defender Jodi Linker, who has already told the jury in the federal trial that her client, 43-year-old David DePape, did in fact break into the Pelosis' home and attack the octogenarian Paul Pelosi last October. Linker is pursuing a narrow defense of DePape, perhaps angling for more lenient sentencing based on the fact that DePape is not and was not in a rational mindset when he committed the crime — shifting some blame to the rabid conspiracy theories that proliferate on the internet that convinced the gullible DePape that Pelosi is a lynchpin in the QAnon bizarro world of secret, government-sponsored pedophilia.
On Tuesday, as NBC Bay Area reports, DePape was called to the stand in his own defense, and Linker questioned him about his conspiratorial beliefs.
"When Bush was in office, I thought 9/11 was an inside job," he said.
DePape burst into tears just minutes into the questioning, as the Chronicle reports, as one of his attorneys asked him how his political views shifted from being more liberal to more right-wing-loony.
"At that time I was biased against Trump," DePape said, "but there’s, like, truth there. So if there’s truth out there that I don’t know, I want to know it.”
DePape testified that he was a fan of YouTube commentators Tim Pool and James Lindsay, and that it was Lindsay who convinced him that there are academics out there trying to poisong the nation's children and indoctrinate them into some sex cult.
The logic here is that feminist/queer theorist Gayle Rubin, a professor at the University of Michigan, is a key player in this QAnon-world conspiracy in which schools become "pedophile molestation factories" and all the "maladjusted" children that come out of them automatically become "communist activists." Because that makes sense!
FBI investigators found that DePape's "Target 1" was Rubin, and that, by some logic, he thought that kidnapping and kneecapping Nancy Pelosi, he could lure Rubin to him for punishment.
But on Tuesday, DePape may have contradicted this target prioritization, saying that Hunter Biden was at the top of his target list.
"I fucking love Hunter Biden. There's so much corruption," DePape said, per NBC Bay Area. "The FBI was covering up corruption."
DePape further testified that he had some remorse about hurting Paul Pelosi, since he was never an intended target. Per KTVU, DePape said in court, "When he was on the ground breathing, I was really scared for his life. And later in the hospital, I felt really bad for him because we had a really good rapport and things were going good until the last second."
Explaining why, if things were going so well, he still bludgeoned Pelosi with the hammer in front of police, DePape said, "I reacted because my plan was basically ruined. He was never my target and I'm sorry he got hurt." *
The Pelosi home was allegedly DePape's "first stop" in his larger, clearly not-well-thought-out plan to target a list of individuals that included the actor Tom Hanks, George Soros Rep. Adam Schiff, former Attorney General Bill Barr, former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Gov. Gavin Newsom.
In her opening statement, Linker said she intends to show that DePape "believes … with every ounce of his being" that these conspiracies are real, and that he could not have been motivated to disrupt Nancy Pelosi's actual duties as a federal official, because he was only concerned with all this fictitious stuff.
He stands accused of attempted kidnapping of a federal official on account of the performance of official duties; and assault on the immediate family member of a federal official, with the intent to retaliate against the official on account of the performance of official duties.
Such defenses won't make much of a difference once the state trial of DePape begins, in which he is accused of attempted murder and elder abuse, among other charges.
On Monday, Paul Pelosi testified about the attack, emotionally discussing how he had been avoiding discussing the incident over the past year. "I haven’t seen any of the news, and I’ve encouraged my family not to either, because it’s been so traumatic. I’ve made the best effort I possibly can to not relive this," Pelosi said.
Paul Pelosi said that all he remembered from the attack itself was "waking up in a pool of blood," and he said that he continues a long recovery from his skull fracture and brain injury that includes being careful around light and noise.
Photo via SFPD
*This article has been updated to include additional testimony via KTVU.