The man accused of attacking the husband of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said there was “evil in Washington” and he was looking to harm Pelosi because she is second in line for the presidency, a San Francisco police investigator testified Wednesday.
The suspect, David DePape, broke into the couple's San Francisco home Oct. 28, seeking to kidnap the speaker — who was out of town — and instead beat her 82-year-old husband, Paul Pelosi, with a hammer, authorities said. The violence sent shockwaves through the political world.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Stephen Murphy ruled that prosecutors had shown enough evidence during a preliminary hearing to move forward with a trial on the state charges, including attempted murder. DePape is due back in state court on Dec. 28.
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Lt. Carla Hurley, who interviewed DePape for an hour the day of the attack, testified Wednesday that the defendant told her of other people he wanted to target, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom, actor Tom Hanks and Hunter Biden, one of President Joe Biden's sons. Hurley did not say whether police had any evidence of a plot against them, and San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said after the hearing she couldn’t comment further.
Authorities had previously said DePape told investigators he had other targets, but a court document stated only that they were a local professor as well as several prominent state and federal politicians and members of their families.
DePape, who appeared in court wearing orange jail clothes, has pleaded not guilty to federal and state charges, including attempted murder, burglary and elder abuse. He remains held without bail.
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“There is evil in Washington, what they did went so far beyond the campaign," DePape told Hurley, according to a recording of their interview that was played in court.
DePape’s public defender, Adam Lipson, declined to comment after the judge's ruling, saying, “We’ll be fighting this case in court, not in the hallway.”
In November, Nancy Pelosi said she would step down as Democrats’ leader in the House after 20 years but remain in office. Her official portrait was unveiled Wednesday in Washington as the court hearing took place more than 2,500 miles (4,023 kilometers) away.
Paul Pelosi, her husband of nearly 60 years, joined her for the ceremony at the U.S. Capitol wearing a hat and a glove that covered his injuries from the attack.
Hurley, who was a sergeant at the time of the attack and was recently promoted to lieutenant, testified that DePape told Paul Pelosi he wanted to talk to Nancy Pelosi because “she is the second in line to the presidency."
If the U.S. president and the vice president become unable to serve, the speaker of the U.S. House assumes the presidency.
Hurley also said DePape told her that he was seeking the speaker and told her husband that he was not part of the plan.
Still, DePape told Paul Pelosi, “I can take you out, I can take you out,” Hurley testified.
Hurley said DePape told her that after he saw the lights of a police patrol car, he told Paul 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."
Prosecutors presented the hammer that was allegedly used in the assault during Wednesday's proceedings, which were attended by Christine Pelosi, one of the Pelosis’ five adult children.
The district attorney's office also played audio of Paul Pelosi’s 911 call to San Francisco police in the courtroom and showed video — less than a minute long — of the attack that was captured on body cameras.
DePape told police he was on a “suicide mission,” court documents say. Authorities have said he was drawn to conspiracy theories.
DePape smashed his way into the Pelosis' home, confronted Paul Pelosi, who was sleeping in boxer shorts and a pajama top, and demanded to know where “Nancy” was, according to court documents.
DePape then told Paul Pelosi that if Nancy Pelosi told him the “truth,” he would let her go and if she “lied,” he was going to break her kneecaps, ” the criminal complaint alleges.
San Francisco Police Officer Kyle Cagney, who was one of two first responding officers testified Wednesday that he saw both men holding the hammer when the door opened. DePape did not obey officers' commands to drop the weapon and instead lunged at Paul Pelosi and swung the hammer at him, Cagney said.
Paul Pelosi was knocked unconscious and woke up in a pool of his own blood. He later underwent surgery to repair a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands.
The speaker was in Washington at the time and under the protection of her security detail, which does not extend to family members.
Dazio reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press writer Lisa Mascaro in Washington contributed.