David DePape weeps on stand, apologizes to Paul Pelosi for hammer attack

The man accused of brutally attacking former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer apologized in court Tuesday, while describing conspiracy theories about why he went to the couple’s San Francisco home to end what he viewed as government corruption. 

In remarks that lasted more than an hour, a tearful David DePape explained how he switched from the political left to right after reading a comment on a YouTube video about former President Donald Trump. 

“When he was on the ground breathing, I was really scared for his life,” DePape said in federal court in San Francisco FOX San Francisco reported. “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.”

Prosecutors allege DePape broke into the Pelosi home on the evening hours of Oct. 28, 2022, in an attempt to find Nancy Pelosi. On Monday, Paul Pelosi testified that DePape repeatedly asked where his wife was. 


“The door opened and a very large man came in with a hammer in one hand and some ties in the other and he said, ‘Where’s Nancy?’ and I think that woke me up,” Pelosi said. “I’m asleep, and he bursts in the door and that woke me up.”

“It was a tremendous 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 said. 

DePape said he went to the Pelosis’ home to talk to Nancy Pelosi about Russian involvement in the 2016 election, and that he planned to wear an inflatable unicorn costume and upload his interrogation of her online.

Paul Pelosi called the police during the home intrusion but DePape struck him with a hammer when officers arrived. 

DePape, 43, said he felt bad for Pelosi after hearing testimony from a neurosurgeon who operated on him after the attack and testified Pelosi had two wounds on his head, including a fracture to his skull that had to be mended with plates and screws. Pelosi also needed stitches on injuries to his right arm and hand.


“He was never my target and I’m sorry that he got hurt,” DePape said. “I reacted because my plan was basically ruined,” he said when asked why he hit Pelosi.

DePape testified he first was drawn to conspiracies after learning about “Gamergate,” an online harassment campaign against women in the video gaming community that took place about a decade ago. He said he often played video games for up to six hours a day while listening to political podcasts.

He said he believed news outlets repeatedly lied about former Trump, specifically mentioning CNN. DePape echoed the baseless rants, including a QAnon conspiracy theory that claims the U.S. government is run by a cabal of devil-worshipping pedophiles, but he did not mention that Tuesday.

He said his other targets included a women’s and queer studies professor at the University of Michigan, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, actor Tom Hanks and President Joe Biden’s son Hunter. He told jurors that he heard about the professor while listening to conservative commentator James Lindsay.

“The takeaway I got is that she wants to turn our schools into pedophile molestation factories,” said DePape, a Canadian citizen who moved to the U.S. more than 20 years ago.

The unidentified professor testified that some of her writings have been misconstrued to fit a narrative against the gay movement. U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ordered her name not be put in the public record because of threats against her.

Asked by DePape’s defense attorney if she supported the abuse of children, the professor responded, “Absolutely not.”

She said that after Paul Pelosi was attacked, the FBI informed her that she was DePape’s main target. She said that she told university administrators and that they have taken measures to protect her, her students, and other staff.

Other witnesses included Daniel Bernal, Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco chief of staff, and DePape neighbor Elizabeth Yates, who said she allowed him to shower at her home once a week.

Closing arguments are expected on Wednesday. DePape faces life in prison if convicted. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


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