The trial of the man who allegedly attacked the husband of US politician Nancy Pelosi with a hammer in the couple’s California home got under way Monday.
A jury was being selected in the federal trial of David DePape, who is charged with the assault of Paul Pelosi and the attempted kidnapping of the then-speaker of the US House of Representatives in October 2022.
Prosecutors say DePape earlier admitted to breaking into the Pelosis’ San Francisco residence with the intention of getting the senior Democrat to acknowledge her party’s “lies” on pain of smashing her kneecaps.
But finding only her then-82-year-old husband at home, he engaged in what he told officers was a “pretty amicable” exchange, during which Pelosi managed to call for help from law enforcement.
Moments later, in scenes captured on police bodycam footage, DePape can apparently be seen bludgeoning Pelosi with a hammer before officers rush at him and take the weapon away.
Pelosi was knocked unconscious and spent almost a week in hospital, where he underwent surgery.
DePape, a Canadian former nudist activist, has pleaded not guilty.
He appeared in court on Monday clean-shaven and wearing a sweater, NBC reported.
If convicted in this federal trial, he could be sentenced to up to life in prison. He also faces separate state charges over the attack.
DePape’s blog writings before he allegedly carried out the attack were reportedly brimful of the kind of election denialism and hate speech that has become par for the course for a subsection of the right in America’s deeply divided politics.
The attack was the nadir of a demonization of Nancy Pelosi, who at 83 remains a hate figure for many in the Republican Party despite her barrier-breaking rise to becoming arguably the most powerful woman in US political history.
Even with video evidence of the brutal assault, a raft of conspiracy theories emerged in its aftermath, with senior party voices expressing skepticism over the attack.
Nancy Pelosi was targeted by people who burst into the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
DePape’s lawyers tried unsuccessfully to change the venue of the trial, arguing that holding it in San Francisco, a region that Nancy Pelosi has represented for more than 35 years in Congress, would make it impossible for him to get a fair trial.