SAN FRANCISCO — A man accused of breaking into the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and attacking her husband with a hammer will stay in jail as he faces state and federal charges that could send him to prison for decades.
David DePape on Tuesday made his first court appearance since his arrest, using a sling for a dislocated shoulder apparently sustained while police were detaining him in the San Francisco home of 82-year-old Paul Pelosi.
He entered a plea of not guilty to charges that include attempted murder, burglary and elder abuse. DePape also faces separate federal charges in a case that has drawn renewed attention to the growing threat of political violence in the U.S. following the refusal of former President Donald Trump to concede his loss in the 2020 election.
Superior Court Judge Diane Northway granted the district attorney’s request to keep DePape in custody. Prosecutors have argued that the 42-year-old — whose online history suggests he adheres to pro-Trump extremist beliefs — posed a threat to public safety.
DePape told investigators that he broke into the Pelosi home with a hammer and planned to break the kneecaps of the speaker, who was in Washington at the time, unless she told “the truth,” as he saw it, to unspecified questions, according to an affidavit in support of the federal charges.
Police officers who responded within minutes to the home witnessed DePape hitting Paul Pelosi in the head with a hammer and knocking him unconscious, according to the federal filings.
A court-appointed defense attorney, Adam Lipson, declined to discuss the specifics of the allegations against DePape.
“There’s also been a lot of speculation regarding Mr. DePape’s vulnerability to misinformation and that’s certainly something we’re going to look into,” Lipson said.
San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins cautioned against making “any presumptions” about the mental state of the accused as she spoke to reporters after the brief court hearing.
“I think what’s clear is this case is vulnerable to misinformation,” Jenkins said.