An attempt by defense lawyers to move the federal trial for Paul Pelosi's alleged attacker, David DePape, out of San Francisco was denied by a judge Wednesday, who said that no evidence had been presented to prove that negative publicity in the Bay Area was any different than anywhere else, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley also said that a change of venue would make it harder to find an impartial jury due to a much smaller jury pool, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Lawyers for the man charged in last year’s attack against former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband had argued that intense publicity in San Francisco meant he wouldn't get a fair trial here. They asked the judge to move the trial to the city of Eureka, neighboring Oregon. The federal trial is set to start Nov. 13.
His federal public defenders, Jodi Linker and Angela Chuang, said media attention on the case in the San Francisco Bay Area had tainted the pool of jurors. They said a survey they commissioned shows many potential jurors already believe he is guilty of the crimes and would be unable to change their minds.
Prosecutors say DePape broke into the Pelosis’ San Francisco home on Oct. 28 seeking to kidnap the former speaker—who was out of town—and instead beat her 83-year-old husband with a hammer. The violence sent shockwaves through the political world.
DePape, 43, pleaded not guilty to federal charges of attempting to kidnap a federal official and assaulting a federal official’s family member. He also pleaded not guilty to state charges, including attempted murder, burglary and elder abuse. He remains jailed without bail. The state trial has not been scheduled.
Linker and Chuang also said they fear potential jurors in San Francisco could be biased against DePape because Nancy Pelosi, who has represented the city in Congress since 1987, remains a popular figure in the Bay Area.
They said Bay Area media outlets have extensively covered the case and played video footage of the assault on Paul Pelosi, the 911 call and a police interview of DePape shortly after his arrest.
Footage of the attack was released to the public in January after a California judge denied prosecutors’ request to keep it secret.
Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at email@example.com