Paul Pelosi testifies in state David DePape hammer attack trial

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

SAN FRANCISCO – Paul Pelosi took the witness stand on Friday in San Francisco Superior Court to face David DePape, the man already convicted in federal court of brutally attacking him with a hammer, telling the courtroom that he couldn’t remember too many details of what happened two years ago.

“I’m groggy and this large man with a hammer in his hand comes into my room, which is this amazing thing to realize, and said, ‘Are you Paul Pelosi?'” the 84-year-old recalled. “I think I remember being struck. The police were saying ‘Drop the hammer,’ I remember the police saying ‘Drop the hammer.’ But whatever that sequence was, since he wasn’t dropping it. And basically, that’s the last thing I remember.”

The large man Pelosi referenced was the 44-year-old DePape, now facing state charges that include attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, residential burglary, false imprisonment, threatening the life or serious bodily harm to a public official, and threatening the staff or family of a public official. 

There is body camera video of the attack, which was released to the public, but which Pelosi said he has never watched. Neither has his wife, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

“It felt like a nightmare, felt like a week to me,” he said. “Frankly, I’ve tried to put it out of my mind for two years now,” he said. 

On Thursday, prosecutors called a neurologist to the witness stand, and he testified that Pelosi may suffer the rest of his life from the injuries caused by the hammer attack.

Also, prosecutors played a one-hour police interview with DePape after he was arrested.

A federal jury has already found DePape guilty of attempting to hold Paul Pelosi hostage and assaulting her husband, Paul Pelosi, after he broke into their home on Oct. 28, 2022, looking for Nancy Pelosi, who was then House Speaker. A federal judge sentenced him to 30 years in prison.

He later told the judge in that case that he never meant to hurt Paul Pelosi. 

On Wednesday, assistant San Francisco District Attorney Sean Connolly began his opening statements by discussing the sanctity of one’s home and the vulnerability of the elderly. He also showed the jury a photograph of Paul Pelosi in a pool of blood after the assault. 

“When we are asleep, we are most vulnerable, and our elderly are our most vulnerable citizens,” he said. “Think about that: a home, in the middle of the night, a man alone, sleeping in his bed.”

Paul Pelosi went from sleeping peacefully to living “a nightmare,” Connolly said.

Opening statements began Wednesday, a day after DePape’s federal sentencing was reopened to allow him to speak.

DePape’s defense attorney, San Francisco Deputy Public Defender Adam Lipson, told the jury that in the months leading up to the attack DePape had been isolating himself and falling deeper into conspiracy theories.

Lipson said that DePape lived in a garage without access to a bathroom in Richmond, a city 20 miles northeast of San Francisco, and spent almost every waking hour playing video games and surfing the internet. He said DePape believed he could speak to fairies and read people’s minds.

DePape was diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder, a mental health condition characterized by a lack of interest in social relationships, Lipson said.

Addressing the jury, Lipson called the attack a “terrible thing” that DePape did. But, he said, his client never intended to kill Paul Pelosi; he simply “lashed out irrationally” when his misguided plan was thwarted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.

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