SAN FRANCISCO — The man who broke into former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home last year unexpectedly testified in his own defense Tuesday, delivering rambling explanations for the hammer attack on her husband — an act he said he regrets because they had “a good rapport.”
Defense lawyers for David DePape have conceded their client broke into the Pelosi home in Pacific Heights on Oct. 28, 2022, and hit Paul Pelosi with a hammer.
DePape has pleaded not guilty to attempted kidnapping of a federal official and assault on the immediate family member of a federal official.
The defense said DePape never intended to harm either Nancy or Paul Pelosi. After breaking into the home and jarring Paul Pelosi out of bed, DePape said he felt comfortable around him.
Paul Pelosi, husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, leaves court after testifying Monday in the trial of David DePape in San Francisco. Noah Berger / AP
“We kinda had a good rapport going,” DePape testified. “He was an amiable gentleman. We had a good rapport going, and I kinda trusted him.”
When officers arrived, DePape said he hit Pelosi once, though police body camera footage showed it was three times.
Defense attorney Angela Chuang asked her client why he hit Paul Pelosi.
“To get to my other targets,” DePape testified, adding, “I felt really bad for him because we had a good rapport, and Paul was never a target.”
The defense has said DePape’s plans were to use Nancy and Paul Pelosi to lure a person the government has labeled “Target 1.”
That person has been identified by local prosecutors and the defense, for which she testified Tuesday, as Bay Area scholar and University of Michigan professor Gayle Rubin, a leading academic in feminist theory and queer studies.
DePape rattled off a long list of grievances — many of which regularly echo through far right circles — that led to the night he broke into the Pelosi home.
He said that before his arrest, he spent six hours a day looking for political commentary on YouTube.
“Everything was a lie coming from the press,” said DePape, wearing a zip up blue-gray cardigan and tan khakis.
He was emotional at times, dropping expletives, crying and clasping his hands in prayer.
The jury did not show any reaction to DePape’s testimony.
After a courtroom break, U.S. District Court Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley asked a marshal to sit near DePape, in apparent concern that the defendant might act erratically.
During cross-examination, Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Vartain Horn asked DePape if he knew that breaking into Pelosi’s home would likely lead to violence.
“Wasn’t my intention, but a possibility, yes,” he said.
And when Horn asked DePape if he planned to hold Nancy Pelosi hostage, the defendant tried to hedge his answer.
“I believe that’s a mischaracterization,” DePape responded.
Trial testimony concluded Tuesday afternoon, and closing arguments are set to begin Wednesday morning.
Chris Young reported from San Francisco, and David K. Li from New York City.