Paul Pelosi testifies in trial against man accused of attacking him with a hammer at SF home

ByStephanie Sierra KGO logo
Tuesday, November 14, 2023
Paul Pelosi testifies in trial against man accused of attacking him
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Paul Pelosi recounted publicly for the first time Monday what happened the night he was attacked by a man in the San Francisco home.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Paul Pelosi recounted publicly for the first time Monday what happened the night he was attacked by a man in the San Francisco home he shares with former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, recalling how shocking it was to see a man standing at his bedroom door, then how the man whacked him in the head with a hammer.

It was a chilling moment as Pelosi walked by defendant David DePape for the first time since the Oct. 28 attack.

TIMELINE: Latest updates after Paul Pelosi attacked inside San Francisco home

Pelosi recounted the moments leading up to DePape bludgeoning him on the head, arm, and hand several times with a steel hammer.

The jury watched intently as Pelosi described waking up to the defendant a few feet away in his upstairs bedroom with a hammer and zip ties in his hand. He also recalled the series of threats he says DePape made towards his wife, Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi.

"He was looking for her and kept saying he wanted to take her out," Pelosi told the jury.

Pelosi described in detail how he tried to dial 911 in the bathroom with DePape standing in the doorway. He says shortly after DePape took his cell phone and followed him down two flights of stairs.

"I'm thinking to myself I hope the police got my message," Pelosi said to the jury.

Pelosi also described the extensive injuries he sustained from his fractured skull, 12 stitches on the back of his arm and a reconstructed hand. He says he didn't have hair for six to eight months and still has lumps on his head from the attack.

"I really believe people will feel as he feels, sit in his chair, and feel that anxiety as he felt it," said Adam Gasner, a federal criminal defense attorney.

Gasner explains the testimony and substantial amount of evidence against DePape complicate the defense strategy.

"It says a lot about the negotiations that occurred behind the curtains that there wasn't an offer that DePape or his lawyers felt were acceptable," Gasner said.

VIDEO: Jury pool for man charged with attack on Paul Pelosi discuss politics, biases, QAnon

Jury pool for David DePape, the man charged with attack on Paul Pelosi in his San Francisco home last year discuss politics, biases and QAnon.

Before this trial began, the government raised concerns to the judge that people, possibly one of DePape's children, were passing out flyers with misinformation about the case. The judge agreed with the concern that the distribution of flyers could influence members of the jury and stressed that would be illegal. Some of the false theories suggested the surveillance video was tampered with.

On Monday, the FBI special agent who edited the footage shown in court testified about its accuracy.

"The reality is these jurors have been specifically instructed not to read press and certainly not read flyers that have no basis and fact," Gasner said. "If they do see that, they're supposed to tell the judge."

Despite audio evidence of DePape admitting his intent to harm Nancy Pelosi, the defense argued during opening statements DePape's overall plan had nothing to do with the former house speaker and her official duties as a member of Congress.

"I think they're trying to narrow this," Gasner said. "It might be a reach, the jury may struggle to decide whether this is a crime that involves her or whether this is a crime that strictly involves Mr. DePape and Paul Pelosi."

The government called a handful of witnesses from U.S. Capitol Police and the FBI to discuss evidence found at the crime scene and on DePape's laptop. Prosecutors revealed DePape had a number of pictures saved from the internet on his computer showing Pelosi's home vandalized with pig blood and a person defecating on their property.

The chief legal officer of people search-engine Spokeo also testified about an account registered to David DePape that showed specific searches about Nancy Pelosi leading up to the attack.

VIDEO: Nancy Pelosi reveals how she first heard about attack on her husband at SF home

Nancy Pelosi revealed how she got the news that her husband, Paul, had been attacked inside the family's San Francisco home by David DePape.

According to Gasner, the federal insanity defense requires DePape prove by clear and convincing evidence that, at the time of the commission of the assault on Mr. Pelosi, DePape, as a result of a severe mental disease, or defect, was unable to appreciate the nature and quality or the wrongfulness of his acts.

Legal analysts tell ABC7 News DePape did not meet the bar for a federal insanity defense, in part because DePape told police he knew exactly what he was doing at the time of the attack and made it clear he would do it again.

The government played a clip of a recorded phone call DePape made to a local news reporter where he showed no remorse for the attack saying, "The tree of liberty needs watering. I want to apologize to everyone. What I did was really bad. I'm really sorry I didn't get more of them."

Surveillance footage not publicly released revealed how DePape got from his Richmond home to San Francisco, starting at the El Cerrito BART station, making two stops at the MacArthur and Civic Center Plaza stations. Then MUNI cameras captured DePape getting on a bus at Van Ness Avenue and McAllister and getting off at North Point before arriving at the Pelosi residence.

DePape has pled not guilty to federal attempted kidnapping and assault charges.

The trial resumes Tuesday.