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 saw as government corruption.
In statements that lasted more than an hour, David DePape, while crying, explained how he switched from the political left to the right after reading a comment on a YouTube video about former President Donald Trump.
“When he was on the ground breathing, I was really afraid for his life,” Depepe said in federal court in San Francisco. “And later in the hospital, I felt bad for him because we had a really good relationship and things were going well until the last second.”
Prosecutors allege that Debab broke into Pelosi’s home in the evening hours of October 28, 2022, in an attempt to find Nancy Pelosi. Paul Pelosi testified Monday that Debab repeatedly asked about his wife’s whereabouts.
Paul Pelosi’s accused attacker, David DeBape, appears in a California court as jury selection for the trial begins
“The door opened and a very large man came in with a hammer in one hand and some bands in the other, and he said, ‘Where’s Nancy?’ “And I think that woke me up,” Pelosi said. “I’m asleep, and he burst in and woke me up.”
He said: “It was a huge shock when I realized someone had broken into the house, and when I looked at it and looked at the hammer and ties, I realized I was in serious danger, so I tried to stay as calm as possible.” .
DePape said he went to Pelosi’s house to talk with Nancy Pelosi about Russian interference in the 2016 election, and that he planned to dress up in an inflatable unicorn costume and upload his questioning of her online.
Paul Pelosi called the police during the home invasion but DiPepe beat him with a hammer when officers arrived.
Debab, 43, said he felt bad for Pelosi after hearing the testimony of a neurosurgeon who operated on him after the attack and testified that Pelosi suffered two wounds to his head, including a fracture in his skull that had to be repaired with plates and screws. Pelosi also needed stitches for injuries to her right arm and hand.
Paul Pelosi testifies in the trial of a man accused of brutally attacking him with a hammer inside a home
“He was never my goal and I’m sorry he got hurt,” Debape said. “I reacted because my plan was basically destroyed,” he said when asked why he struck Pelosi.
DePape testified that he was first drawn to the conspiracies after learning about “Gamergate,” an online harassment campaign against women in the video game community that occurred about a decade ago. He said he would often play video games for up to six hours a day while listening to political podcasts.
He said he believes the media repeatedly lied about the former Trump, and specifically mentioned CNN. Debab echoed baseless rants, including the QAnon conspiracy theory that claims the US government is run by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles, but he did not mention that on Tuesday.
He said his other targets include a professor of women’s and LGBT studies at the University of Michigan, California Governor 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 idea I got is that she wants to turn our schools into pedophilia factories,” said Debab, a Canadian citizen who moved to the United States more than 20 years ago.
The anonymous professor testified that some of her writings had been misinterpreted to fit a narrative against the LGBT movement. U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ordered her name not to be included in the public record because of threats against her.
In response to a question from Debab’s defense lawyer whether she supported child abuse, the professor replied: “Absolutely not.”
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She said that after Paul Pelosi was attacked, the FBI informed her that she was Debab’s main target. She said she notified university officials, and they took measures to protect her, her students and other staff.
Other witnesses included Daniel Bernal, Nancy Pelosi’s chief of staff in San Francisco, and Debab’s neighbor Elizabeth Yates, who said she allowed him to shower at her house once a week.
Closing arguments are expected on Wednesday. Dibab faces life imprisonment if convicted.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.