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Judge greenlights state assault, attempted murder charges for Paul Pelosi attack suspect

David DePape told investigators he was on a mission to meet with political targets like Nancy Pelosi and Gavin Newsom and did not expect to survive his mission.

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — David DePape, accused of a home invasion attack and seriously injuring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband, told police he wanted to make an example of Pelosi. And on Wednesday, a San Francisco County Superior Court judge ordered the 42-year-old to stand trial on six state charges including attempted murder.

The state presented its case against DePape at a preliminary hearing Wednesday. DePape, a carpenter from the Bay Area suburb of Richmond, faces charges in both state and federal courts of breaking into the Pelosis' San Francisco home and assaulting Paul Pelosi with a hammer. The violent incident shocked national politicians. 

DePape waived his right to a hearing within 10 days at his arraignment in San Francisco Superior Court and is being held without bail.

Investigators said in the indictment that DePape told them he was on a “suicide mission” and planned to take Speaker Pelosi hostage and “break her kneecaps” to make her an example to other Democratic lawmakers. They say DePape’s posted antisemitic and QAnon-affiliated conspiracy theories online, and an FBI agent said in an affidavit that "DePape also explained generally that he wanted to use Nancy to lure another individual to DePape."

DePape is a Canadian citizen and has been in the country illegally since 2008, according to federal prosecutors.

Before Superior Court Judge Stephen Murphy on Wednesday, Deputy District Attorney Sean Connolly called San Francisco Police Department officer Kyle Cagney to the stand. Cagney and his partner responded to the Pelosi home around 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 28. 

Cagney said the door was opened when he and his partner rang the doorbell, and he said they saw Pelosi and the suspect holding on to a hammer. 

He said his partner asked what was going on and DePape said “Nothing.” DePape refused orders to drop the hammer, stepped back to snatch the hammer from Pelosi, “lunged” and struck Pelosi “really hard” in the head, Cagney said. He said he tackled the suspect and handcuffed him.

Cagney identified DePape in the courtroom, dressed in orange and wearing a black mask, as the suspect he tackled in the Pelosi home. He was presented with a hammer, steel with a wooden handle, which he said was the one DePape used to attack Pelosi.

Cagney also said he saw Paul Pelosi fall to the ground face down and that he appeared to be unconscious, lying motionless in a pool of blood.

In a body camera recording played in court, officers can be heard commanding DePape to drop a hammer. DePape said “Uh, nope,” and officers can be heard shouting “Oh, shit,” tackling the suspect and shouting “Give me your fucking hand!”

 Sgt. Carla Hurley interviewed Pelosi at the hospital, where Pelosi told her he had been awakened in his bedroom by DePape, who asked “Where’s Nancy, where’s Nancy?” Pelosi told him his wife was in Washington. DePape said he would tie up Pelosi and wait for the Speaker, that he had many targets including Gavin Newsom and actor Tom Hanks and added, “They’re all crazy and corrupt and we need to take them out.”

DePape repeatedly told Pelosi, “I can take you out," Hurley testified. 

Pelosi managed to call 911 from his cellphone in the bathroom, with DePape trying to get him off the phone. In the call played for the court, Pelosi is heard saying a man had entered his home and wanted to wait there. He asked for “Capitol police,” saying “I don’t know who he is. He’s telling me not to do anything, he’s telling me to put the phone down and do what he says.”

DePape said in a recorded interview with Hurley that “I’m not trying to get away with this. I know what I did.” He said he thinks that Democratic politicians illegally conspired against the Trump campaign, “persecuting the rival campaign” and submitting “fake evidence.”

DePape calmly described the timeline of the incident to Hurley, who said there were no dramatic differences from Pelosi’s account. He told Hurley that when police arrived, he told Pelosi, “I’m not going to surrender, I am here to fight. If you stop me from going after people, you will take the punishment instead.”

Hurley said DePape wanted to show, if Nancy Pelosi showed up to Congress in a wheelchair, that “there are consequences to their actions.” He did not expect to survive the mission, she said. 

Hurley reviewed and described photos of what was inside DePape’s backpacks, including another hammer, duct tape, hard drives, a Canadian passport, social security card, a uniform costume, underwear and crayons. 

Paul Pelosi sustained a skull fracture in the attack and underwent surgery for the fracture and other injured limbs. Speaker Pelosi was in Washington at the time of the attack, protected by her security detail. Threats against lawmakers and elections officials have been at all-time highs since the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol, and authorities have issued warnings about rising extremism in the U.S. according to the Associated Press.

DePape faces state charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, residential burglary, false imprisonment and threatening the life of or causing serious bodily harm to a public official. The judge ruled that there is sufficient evidence to arraign DePape on all charges and set arraignment for Dec. 28.

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said she views the incident as indicating a “toxic political environment.”

“Not only can we not engage in respectful discourse with respect to our political differences, but people believe it is OK to enact acts of violence toward our political leadership for simply taking a position that is not in accordance with what that person believes — and that they can harm their family members as well,” Jenkins said.

Paula Williams, a San Francisco resident who attended the hearing, said she was not surprised to hear the evidence in court. She said she came to support the Pelosis, wearing a sweater she made with their faces on the back.

“They’ve been a great asset to San Francisco,” she said. 

“I think that (the attack) is very disturbing. It’s a shame that people are targeting our city and county politicians of San Francisco.”

Paula Williams attended David DePape's preliminary hearing in Calif. on Dec. 14, saying she supports the Pelosi family including with a shirt she made after Paul Pelosi was attacked in lieu of the House Speaker. (Natalie Hanson/Courthouse News)
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