David DePape, the man who broke into the home of now-former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and severely injured her husband Paul Pelosi, was found guilty by a jury in a San Francisco federal court on Thursday with one count each of attempted kidnapping and assault.
On October 28, 2022, Paul Pelosi, then home alone in San Francisco, was attacked by DePape. Armed with a hammer, DePape broke into the Pelosi home and began calling out for the Speaker, causing Paul Pelosi to call the police and confront the man. DePape soon began trying to tie him up while saying that he wanted to do the same to his wife. A scuffle soon broke out, which at that time police arrived in time to see DePape start to attack Pelosi. Special agents from the U.S. Capitol Police’s California Field Office and SFPD officers quickly tackled DePape as a result and arrested him.
Pelosi recovered from his injuries, while DePape has been in jail for over the year, being a subject of a joint SFPD, FBI, and Capitol Police investigation. In the year since, DePape has said that his real target was Nancy Pelosi, that he had planned to break her kneecaps for ‘lying’, and that he had several other prominent officials and celebrities on his attack list, including Governor Gavin Newsom, actor Tom Hanks and President Joe Biden’s son Hunter.
DePape was eventually charged by the federal government with one count each of “attempted kidnapping of a federal official in the performance of official duties” and “assaulting an immediate member of a federal official’s family and inflicting a serious injury with a dangerous weapon”. The San Francisco DA also charged him with another six counts, including attempted murder, residential burglary, elder abuse, assault with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment of an elder, and threatening the family member of public official.
The federal trial began last Thursday, with many expecting to take several weeks. However, the timeline was shortened significantly when DePape’s legal team admitted that he did indeed attack Pelosi. Rather than challenge that, they went after how his motivation for the assault didn’t match charges against him, aiming for lesser charges rather than being outright not guilty.
“This case here is about the why — the why matters. This case is about whether David acted because of, on account of, Nancy Pelosi’s duties as a member of Congress,” said Jodi Linker, an attorney for DePape. “He didn’t. And he only struck Paul Pelosi in a quick moment of despair because the police arrived and his larger plan was thwarted.”
While many San Francisco police officers and FBI agents testified to what they saw and what they have found out about DePape, the trial reached an emotional high earlier this week when Paul Pelosi took the witness stand.
“It was a tremendous shock to recognize that somebody had broken into the house and looking at him and looking at the hammer and the ties, I recognized that I was in serious danger, so I tried to stay as calm as possible,” said Pelosi. “He was surprised and confused, when he found out that she was not home. I told him ‘She’s not here. She’s in Washington.'”
Pelosi then proceeded to recount the attack, waking up in a pool of blood, and his months of recovery in which he has still not reached the point to where he was before the attack.
DePape found guilty on both counts
The other emotional high during the trial was when DePape testified. He recounted that he was focused on finding Nancy Pelosi, and was surprised to find out that only Paul Pelosi was home.
“I’m telling him, I have other targets, but if you stop me, I’ll go through you,” added DePape. “I reacted when the police showed up and hit him in the head with a hammer because my plan was basically ruined. He was never my target and I’m sorry that he got hurt.”
The short trial was then given to the jury, who deliberated for only 8 hours before reaching their verdict. This led to the jury finding DePape guilty of attempted kidnapping of a federal official and assault on the immediate family member of a federal official on Thursday. While a sentencing date has yet to be given, DePape will be facing up to 50 years on both charges combined.
“Nancy Pelosi and her family are grateful for the outpouring of prayers,” said Pelosi family spokesman Aaron Bennett following the verdict. “Paul Pelosi demonstrated extraordinary composure and courage in the courtroom this week. Given the ongoing state court proceedings, the Pelosi family will not be giving further comment.”
At a press conference later on Thursday, US attorney Ismail Ramsey added that “People can believe what they want and engage in passionate debate. But 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 the performance of their job.”
While DePape’s team did not have comment following the trial, law enforcement officals added that the verdict was “No surprise.”
“There was no surprise on Thursday,” said Frank Ma, a former policeman and security consultant in the city, to the Globe. “He attacked someone maliciously, they had it all on video, there were multiple witnesses, and the guy himself said he did it. His lawyers did what they could and tried to find weak areas to challenge, but it didn’t work.”
Besides the sentencing of DePape on Federal charges, focus will now shift towards the state trial, where DePape faces another six counts which, if convicted on all of them, could mean that he serves a life sentence.
“My team will confer with the federal prosecutors and with the victim in this case as we determine what our next steps in the state case will be,” said DA Jenkins on Thursday. “Mr. DePape is facing a different set of charges in our case including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, and false imprisonment. We are confident in our case and are prepared to move forward to trial.”
A trial date on the state charges is expected to be announced later this month.
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