A federal judge this week denied a request from lawyers of Paul Pelosi attack suspect David DePape to move his trial out of California’s Bay Area, according to a new court filing.
Mr. DePape is facing both state and federal charges in an October 2022 incident in which he allegedly attacked Mr. Pelosi, the husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), inside their San Francisco home. He’s also accused of making threats to kidnap Mrs. Pelosi and other officials, although he has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Last month, Mr. DePape’s lawyers submitted a brief that the San Francisco jury pool would be biased and sought to move the trial away to Eureka, California, a small city located in the northwestern part of California. They argued, in part, that due to Mrs. Pelosi’s prominence in the district, it would prevent the suspect from receiving a fair trial.
But Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley on Wednesday denied his motion and said that people in Eureka were likely exposed to the case due to the significant media coverage it received. Noting that the potential juror pool in Eureka is smaller than in San Francisco, the judge said that the “main reason is I think it would be very difficult to find a fair and impartial jury versus what we have here.”
Judge Corley noted that there were only 300,000 people in Eureka’s jury pool as compared to the some 5.5 million people in the Bay Area, one of the largest metropolitan area’s in the United States.
“We have so many more people to pull from,” Judge Corley said. “If you’re drawing from a larger pool you’re more likely to hit on people that are impartial.”
Mr. DePape’s lawyer, Angela Chuang, argued that possible jurors in Eureka, however, had less “depth of familiarity” in the case and cited a poll that found fewer people there saw the media coverage of the attack. Many people in the Bay Area, she noted, were represented by Mrs. Pelosi over the past several decades she’s been a congresswoman.
“It would be very, very difficult for them to remain impartial. [Nancy Pelosi] is very popular,” Ms. Chuang said, according to the Courthouse News Service.
However, the judge wasn’t convinced. “I’m not persuaded at all that we can’t find jurors here just because Pelosi was their congressperson,” Judge Corley replied, adding that it did not matter if the Democrat congresswoman represented a possible juror because there is no guarantee that the juror voted for her.
Another one of Mr. DePape’s lawyers, Jodi Linker, asserted that publicity from San Francisco Bay Area media outlets was inflammatory and biased against him.
“Video footage of the incident was released to the local media, as was an audio recording of a police interrogation that occurred shortly after Mr. DePape’s arrest, in which he made incriminating statements,” according to a court filing from his team. “Local media have also focused on Mr. DePape’s allegedly bigoted political beliefs, further poisoning the well in the Bay Area. And survey research shows that a very high proportion of potential Bay Area jurors believe that Mr. DePape is already guilty.”
The filing added that “the extensive, prejudicial, and inflammatory media coverage in the Bay Area of Mr. DePape’s alleged criminal conduct; the unique local prominence of Nancy Pelosi; the release and broadcast of a recording of Mr. DePape’s confession during a police interrogation; and the relatively short interval between this incident and the trial” warrants the transferring of venue out of the San Francisco division.
Local Bay Area media outlets have claimed Mr. DePape is also a “proponent of right-wing hate” who has racist, and anti-Semitic, homophobic views, Ms. Linker wrote.
Earlier this year, police body camera footage appeared to show Mr. DePape and Mr. Pelosi speaking with officers before the suspect appears to hit the elderly man in the head with a hammer—before police rushed in to apprehend Mr. DePape.
Surveillance footage before the attack was also released earlier this year, allegedly showing Mr. DePape rifling through a bag of items before he smashed a window to the Pelosis’ home. U.S. Capitol Police officials confirmed that it had cameras outside the Pelosi house but were not being monitored at the time of the break-in.
Police Lt. Carla Hurley, who spoke to Mr. DePape after the attack, testified during Dec. 14 court hearing that the defendant wanted to smash Mrs. Pelosi’s kneecaps and put her in a wheelchair. He had other targets, too, including California Gov. Gavin Newsom, she said.
Federal officials alleged Mr. DePape, a Canadian citizen who was reportedly in the United States illegally after overstaying his visa, told investigators that he wanted to kidnap Mrs. Pelosi and that he wanted to speak to her. They described the attack as politically motivated, while members of Mr. DePape’s family have spoken to media outlets and have questioned the official narrative around the incident.
Earlier in 2023, Mr. DePape phoned local news outlet KATU-TV and said he carried out the attack because “liberty isn’t dying, it’s being killed systematically and deliberately.” He added that those who are killing liberty have “names and addresses.”
From The Epoch Times