Update: The video recordings from the night David DePape allegedly bludgeoned Paul Pelosi with a hammer in his San Francisco home have been released.
NOW: Just released body cam footage showing PAUL PELOSI attacked pic.twitter.com/jPRQcJuRWc— Upward News (@UpwardNewsHQ) January 27, 2023
San Francisco Chronicle
Jan. 25—A San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday that dramatic audio and video recordings captured the night David DePape allegedly bludgeoned Paul Pelosi with a hammer in his San Francisco home could be publicly released.
In a short hearing Wednesday afternoon, Judge Stephen Murphy sided with a group of media outlets, including ABC, NBC, KQED, Politico, the New York Times and The San Francisco Chronicle, in granting access to the footage, though the timing on when the actual files will be released is not yet certain.
The ruling came over the objections of DePape’s attorney, who argued releasing the recordings could inhibit his client’s ability to get a fair trial. The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office also raised concerns about the release of the recordings.
The media outlets argued that body camera camera footage and other assets of the investigation presented in court during DePape’s preliminary hearing in December should be accessible to the public, since they had been submitted in open court and admitted into evidence.
Defense attorney Adam Lipson, who is defending DePape, argued that the release of the recordings risked propagating more conspiracy theories and false media reporting about the high-profile case. Unfounded theories about the attack — largely fueled by social media and conservative news outlets — arose in the wake of the incident. Lipson said he feared potential manipulations of the digital recordings could damage DePape’s ability to get a fair trial.
DePape, 42, is accused of carrying out a brutal attack against U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband in October. He pleaded not guilty to six charges brought by the San Francisco District Attorney’s office, including attempted murder, and faces a parallel proceeding in federal court.
He faces life in prison if convicted.
Murphy heard arguments from Lipson and San Francisco Assistant District Attorney Phoebe Maffei, as well as Thomas Burke, the attorney representing the group of news organizations.
“The precedent… that they are asking you to set here is out of a speculative fear of manipulation. Think about what a horrible precedent that would be,” said Burke, addressing Judge Murphy.
Ultimately, the judge ruled that concerns about potential tampering with the recordings interfering with DePape’s right to a fair trial were not compelling enough to withhold the recordings.
The multimedia content in question includes Paul Pelosi’s 911 call, SFPD body camera footage that captured the attack, U.S. Capitol Police surveillance footage that captured DePape walking onto the premises, and DePape’s recorded interview with a SFPD investigator in which he candidly discussed his encounter with Pelosi.
During the hearing, Maffei said the District Attorney’s Office had particular concerns about security issues posed by the release of the Capitol Police’s surveillance camera, as it captured security processes on the Pelosi residence.
Despite those arguments, the public will soon have access to all of the footage that was presented in court, including that surveillance footage.
Prosecutors previously argued that DePape attempted to kill Mr. Pelosi with “cold and calculated consideration” based on his efforts to break into the home and his own recorded statements about what he would have to do if Mr. Pelosi got in his way.
DePape, a Canadian citizen, is accused of breaking into the Pelosis’ Pacific Heights home just after 2 a.m. on Oct. 28 with the intention to kidnap and interrogate Nancy Pelosi.
Instead DePape, armed with a hammer, encountered 82-year-old Paul Pelosi. What followed was an exchange during which Pelosi made an emergency call to 911 that alerted dispatchers to the intruder in the home.
When SFPD officers arrived, DePape allegedly struck Pelosi with the hammer and fractured his skull, prosecutors said. The entire encounter was captured by an officer’s body camera.
After the attack, DePape was transported to a local hospital to be treated for his own injuries, which he sustained from allegedly breaking into the home; it took him 16 blows and an entire body slam to break through the glass, officials said during the preliminary hearing.
While in custody, he allegedly told a police investigator about breaking into the home, his plans to hold Nancy Pelosi hostage, and his eventual decision to hurt Paul Pelosi.
Investigators later said they found two hammers, a pair of rubber gloves and a sword on the premises after the attack.
Annie Vainshtein (she/her) is a Chronicle staff writer. Email: email@example.com.
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