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Man who attacked Nancy Pelosi’s husband convicted of assault
16 November 2023, 19:54
David DePape faces up to 50 years in prison.
The man who broke into former US House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco home seeking to hold her hostage, and attacked her husband with a hammer, has been convicted of federal charges of attempted kidnapping and assault.
The jury on Thursday deliberated for about eight hours before finding David DePape guilty of attempted kidnapping of a federal official and assault on the immediate family member of a federal official.
He faces up to 50 years in prison.
The attack on then 82-year-old Paul Pelosi that was captured on police body camera video just days before last year’s midterm elections sent shockwaves through the political world.
DePape, 43, admitted during trial evidence that he broke into the Pelosis’ home on October 28, 2022, intending to hold Nancy Pelosi hostage and “break her kneecaps” if she lied to him.
He also admitted bludgeoning Paul Pelosi with a hammer after San Francisco police arrived at the home, saying his plan to end what he viewed as government corruption was unravelling.
Defence lawyer Angela Chuang told jurors during closing arguments that DePape was caught up in conspiracies.
She said he was motivated by his political beliefs, not because he wanted to interfere with Nancy Pelosi’s official duties as a member of Congress, making the charges against him invalid.
Prosecutor Helen Gilbert said the defence had made a false distinction between Ms Pelosi’s politics and official duties and that DePape did not differentiate between the two.
DePape, a Canadian citizen who moved to the US more than 20 years ago, is also is charged in a state court with assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse and residential burglary.
A state trial date will be set during a November 29 hearing, said Randy Quezada, a spokesman for the San Francisco district attorney’s office.
Defence lawyer Jodi Linker said DePape believed “with every ounce of his being” that he was taking action to stop government corruption, the erosion of liberty in America, and the abuse of children by liberal politicians and actors.
During his evidence DePape echoed right-wing conspiracy theories and told jurors he had planned to wear an inflatable unicorn costume and record his interrogation of Nancy Pelosi to upload it online.
Prosecutors say he had rope and zip ties with him. Detectives also found body cameras, a computer and a tablet.
DePape said his plan was to get Nancy Pelosi to admit that she had been lying to the American people. “If she lied, I would break her kneecaps,” he said. “The choice is on her.”
He said he would then move to other targets, including California governor Gavin Newsom, actor Tom Hanks and President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden.
Paul Pelosi also gave evidence, recalling how he was awakened by a large man bursting into the bedroom door and asking, “Where’s Nancy?”
He said that when he said his wife was in Washington, DePape said he would tie him up while they waited for her.
“It was a tremendous sense of shock to recognise that somebody had broken into the house and looking at him and looking at the hammer and the ties, I recognised that I was in serious danger, so I tried to stay as calm as possible,” Pelosi told jurors.
Pelosi said how called 911 with DePape watching, urging Pelosi to tell police that he was a friend. Pelosi said he tried to tell police what was happening without aggravating DePape.
Pelosi recalled being thankful when the police arrived, only for DePape to then hit him with the hammer. He said he woke up in a pool of his own blood.
More than a year after the attack, he still has not fully recovered, Pelosi said.
A spokesman for Nancy Pelosi, speaking after the verdict was announced, said Paul Pelosi “continues to make progress in his recovery” and that the family was grateful for the outpouring of support for him from people across the US.
DePape gave evidence that he thought Paul Pelosi was dead until he saw he was charged by San Francisco prosecutors with attempted murder.
“He was never my target and I’m sorry that he got hurt,” DePape said.
He told jurors he believed news outlets repeatedly lied about former president Donald Trump.
In rants posted on a blog and online forum that were taken down after his arrest, DePape echoed the baseless, right-wing QAnon conspiracy theory that claims the US government is run by a cabal of devil-worshipping paedophiles.
He repeated QAnon-like conspiracies during his testimony, referring to a cabal and the ruling elite and saying they are eroding Americans’ liberty and allowing the abuse of children.