David DePape trial: jury begins deliberating case of Paul Pelosi attack

Jury deliberations began Wednesday in the trial of the man accused of bludgeoning former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer when he broke into the couple's San Francisco home last year.

Closing arguments started around 8:45 a.m., with federal prosecutors underlining David DePape's alleged intent to harm Pelosi. Upon discovering her absence from the home on Oct. 28, 2022, prosecutors claimed that DePape directed his focus toward her husband, Paul Pelosi.

Prosecutors said the hammer that was used on Paul Pelosi during the attack, DePape had initially planned to use on Nancy Pelosi.

The prosecution's closing arguments lasted for more than an hour. Following a 15-minute break, the defense started their closing arguments. Although there is substantial evidence, that does not mean this is an open and shut case. There is video of a confession, but the question whether this rose to the level of a federal crime is now in the jury's hands. 

Defense attorneys contended that the case was not about identifying the perpetrator, as DePape admitted to carrying out the attack. Instead, they argued that prosecutors had failed to establish the motivation behind the assault as it relates to the charges DePape faces — 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.

DePape's attorneys argued that he is not guilty of the charges, because he did not target Nancy Pelosi due to her official duties as a member of Congress. Rather, the defense said that DePape went to the Pelosis' home as part of his plan to end what he viewed as government corruption. DePape testified on Tuesday about his belief in conspiracy theories, such as the baseless claim that politicians are sexually abusing children. 

DePape testified that his plan was to get Nancy Pelosi and other targets to admit to their corruption. He said he bludgeoned Paul Pelosi after realizing his larger plan might be unraveling.

"That's really the only thing they can stand on, is say it's not a federal offense," said David Levine from the University of California San Francisco School of Law. "Maybe an offense, but not something that can be tried in federal court."

Levine said the defense may have had to put DePape on the witness stand to explain his motivations, and let the jury decide if his motive had anything to do with the former speaker's official responsibilities. 

"And the only person who can testify on this issue of Mr. DePape's intent is himself," said Levine. "There was no other choice."

Once this case resolves, DePape is still facing an attempted murder and assault trial in San Francisco Superior Court.

Levine said transcripts of DePape's testimony admitting to what he did could figure prominently in the upcoming trial. 


Paul Pelosi testifies about brutal hammer attack at San Francisco home

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.