Pelosi husband attacker convicted of attempted kidnapping and assault

Published : 17 Nov 2023 08:35 PM
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A jury has convicted the man charged with breaking into the home of Rep. Nancy Pelosi and striking her 83-year-old husband in the head with a hammer in an act of political violence fueled by hard-right delusions.

David DePape, a Canadian citizen who was living in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time of the attack, was found guilty by a jury in federal court Thursday of assault and kidnapping charges that could send him to prison for decades.

“This guilty verdict on all counts sends a clear message that regardless of what your beliefs are, what you cannot do is physically attack a member of Congress or their immediate family for their performance in their job,” Ismail Ramsey, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California, said in a news conference following the verdict.

Jurors convicted DePape after deliberating about six hours in a trial that began Nov. 9 in downtown San Francisco, about two miles from the Pelosi home where the attack occurred in October 2022.

DePape, who at times sobbed during his testimony, sat hunched forward and stared at the defense table as the verdict was announced but showed no obvious emotion.

Christine Pelosi, one the couple’s daughters, was in the back of the courtroom typing on her phone when the jury’s decision was announced. She declined to comment afterward but the family issued a statement.

“Speaker Pelosi and her family are deeply grateful for the outpouring of prayers and warm wishes for Mr. Pelosi from so many across the country during this difficult time,” Rep. Pelosi said. “The Pelosi family is very proud of their Pop, who demonstrated extraordinary composure and courage on the night of the attack a year ago and in the courtroom this week.”

DePape admitted — to investigators, in a jailhouse interview and in rambling court testimony — to breaking into the home and striking Paul Pelosi in the head with a hammer as part of a convoluted plot to detain and interrogate the former House speaker as leverage against other prominent figures he believed were engaged in a wide-ranging conspiracy and corruption.

He said he planned to wear a unicorn costume he brought to her home that night and film the interrogation. “If she lied,” DePape told the jury, “I would break her kneecaps.”

DePape was charged with attempted kidnapping of a U.S. official and assault on an immediate family member of a U.S. official. Both counts required under federal law that the defendant had the intent against the official over their duties — a notion that the defense challenged.

His lawyers argued his intentions were “wholly unrelated” to her official role in Congress, even though he admitted on the stand that he targeted her as a leader of the Democratic Party. His conspiratorial views included a belief that former President Donald Trump was persecuted by officials and had been improperly denied reelection.

Prosecutors were dismissive of the defense argument. “He deliberately targeted her because of her job, because of her role in our political system, because of her official duties,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Helen Gilbert said. “He describes Pelosi as ‘leader of the pack.’’’

The kidnapping charge carries a 20-year prison sentence and the assault has a 30-year term. A hearing for his sentencing was not immediately scheduled.

DePape also faces state charges for the attack, including attempted murder, burglary, assault with a deadly weapon and elder abuse.

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said in a statement that her office would review the verdict and consult with federal prosecutors before deciding their next steps. “We are confident in our case and are prepared to move forward to trial,” she added.