SAN FRANCISCO (AFP): The man accused of attacking US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer had a list of future targets that included Hollywood superstar Tom Hanks, a US court heard Wednesday.
David DePape told police he had intended to kidnap the Democratic Party’s top politician in Congress and get her to admit to “lies” or he would smash her kneecaps.
But when he broke into her San Francisco home in October, he instead found her 82-year-old husband Paul Pelosi, and after what he told officers was a “pretty amicable” exchange, bludgeoned him with a hammer.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Stephen Murphy ruled Wednesday that there was enough evidence for 42-year-old DePape, a Canadian former public nudity activist, to stand trial over the assault, which left Paul Pelosi with a fractured skull.
The defendant has denied the 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.
DePape told investigators he was looking at other high-profile targets as well as Nancy Pelosi, the court heard.
These included Hanks, California Governor Gavin Newsom and Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden and the frequent target of rightwing conspiracy theorists.
At Wednesday’s hearing, prosecutors played parts of an interview DePape gave to investigators after his arrest.
The suspect said he had told Paul Pelosi that he had no intention of surrendering, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
“I had threatened him a couple of times but for the most part it was pretty amicable,” DePape said on the recording.
But when he lunged at Pelosi, he did so with “full force,” the Chronicle said.
Nancy Pelosi — who as House speaker is second in line to the US presidency after the vice president — was not in San Francisco at the time of the attack.
Paul Pelosi had managed to call police while his assailant was in the house.
Officers were able to subdue the attacker, but not before he had fractured Pelosi’s skull, knocking him unconscious.
Prosecutors on Wednesday showed body camera footage from one of the officers, the Chronicle reported.
DePape could be heard saying “Uh, nope,” after he was ordered to drop the hammer before the attack and subsequent tussle.
“A sound that appeared to be Pelosi’s snoring, after he was struck by the hammer, was heard loudly at the end of the video,” the Chronicle reported.
The assault and attempted kidnapping came just days before the high-stakes midterm elections, with America’s febrile political atmosphere being regularly fed by outlandish conspiracy theories from national figures.
“The only reasonable interpretation of (DePape’s) statements is that he intended to kill Paul Pelosi when Mr. Pelosi got in his way,” the judge said Wednesday.
DePape was ordered to appear in court again on December 28 for arraignment.
A separate federal case against DePape is ongoing. He has denied charges of kidnap and assault levied there.
Paul Pelosi spent almost a week in hospital, where he underwent surgery after the attack.
Nancy Pelosi later said her husband was facing “a long recovery process.”