Accused Pelosi attacker pleads not guilty in California court

Police say David DePape broke into Pelosi residence in San Francisco to take House Speaker hostage

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and husband Paul at the 45th Kennedy Centre Honours in Washington on December 4. AFP
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The Canadian man accused of breaking into the San Francisco home of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and pounding her husband with a hammer pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to state criminal charges.

David DePape is charged with attempted murder, first-degree residential burglary, elder abuse, assault with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment and threatening a family member of a public official.

Mr DePape denied all of the charges and waived his right to a quick trial, San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said.

His next court date is scheduled for February 23, 2023.

A San Francisco police officer testified earlier in December that he saw the October attack.

Prosecutors say the suspect, demanding to see Ms Pelosi, a Democrat, broke into her home and attacked her husband.

The assault stoked fears about political violence in the US in the run-up to November's midterm elections.

Lt Carla Hurley, who interviewed Mr DePape for an hour on the day of the attack, said the defendant told her of other people he wanted to go after, including California Governor Gavin Newsom, actor Tom Hanks and Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden.

Mr DePape, a long-time Bay Area resident, had been active on social media, railing against the government and technology companies, and spreading far-right conspiracy theories.

“There is evil in Washington. What they did went so far beyond the campaign,” Mr DePape told Lt Hurley, according to a recording of their interview heard in court.

Police say Mr DePape broke into the Pelosi home early on October 28, aiming to take the House Speaker hostage, but she was in Washington at the time.

Mr DePape allegedly attacked her husband instead after a verbal confrontation.

After the attack, Paul Pelosi was in intensive care and had surgery for a skull fracture and injuries to his right arm and hands. He was released from hospital in early November.

Paul Pelosi attack highlights growing risk of US political violence - in pictures

Reuters contributed to this report

Updated: December 29, 2022, 12:25 PM