By OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Defense attorneys for David DePape, the man on trial for the attack of former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband in the couple's San Francisco home, will call witnesses Tuesday as they argue DePape is not guilty of the crimes he's been charged with.
The trial's third day will start with a final witness from the prosecution, and defense attorneys say they hope to wrap up their case by day's end. The case would then go to jurors.
Prosecutors say DePape bludgeoned Paul Pelosi in the early hours of Oct. 28, 2022, just days before the midterm elections, and that he had rope and zip ties with him. 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 performance of their duties.
Defense attorney Jodi Linker told jurors last week that she won’t dispute that DePape attacked Pelosi. Instead, she will argue that DePape believed that he was taking action to stop government corruption, the erosion of freedom in the United States, and the abuse of children by politicians and actors. She said that means the charges that DePape was trying to interfere with Nancy Pelosi’s official duties don’t fit.
Paul Pelosi took the stand Monday and recounted publicly for the first time what happened the night of the attack.
“It was a tremendous sense of shock to recognize that somebody had broken into the house and looking at him and looking at the hammer and the ties, I recognized that I was in serious danger, so I tried to stay as calm as possible," he testified.
The Pelosis' home has an alarm system with motion detectors, but Pelosi said he never put it on when he was home alone because his movements would trigger it.
He recalled being awakened by a man bursting into the bedroom door asking, “Where's Nancy?” He said that when he responded that his wife was in Washington, DePape said he would tie him up while they waited for her.
He later testified that he was able to call police from his cellphone and that DePape hit him with a hammer when police arrived.
Earlier, prosecutors played police body camera footage showing Pelosi facedown on the floor as paramedics help him. One holds a white towel against Pelosi’s head as another puts a neck and head brace on him before several first responders help him onto a stretcher chair. Pelosi’s face and hands are covered in blood. He later underwent surgery to repair a skull fracture and injuries to his right arm and hands.
FBI Special Agent Stephanie Minor, who was in charge of the investigation, testified that video showed DePape hit Paul Pelosi at least three times.
DePape showed little emotion during most of the testimony, only smiling and releasing a muted chuckle when, at his attorney's request, Minor read a list of topics that appeared on his blog. They included Communism, corruption, COVID-19, Jewish people, “Gamergate,” guns, immigrants, memes and wamon, a word used to describe a woman who does nothing but complain.
If convicted, DePape faces life in prison. He 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.
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.
Defense attorneys have listed four possible witnesses: Daniel Bernal, Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco chief of staff; extremism and antisemitism researcher Elizabeth Yates; federal public defender Catherine Goulet; and one unidentified witness.