David DePape found guilty after Paul Pelosi attack

Mr DePape had pleaded not guilty to two federal charges and still faces additional charges in the state of California

Kelly Rissman
Thursday 16 November 2023 19:52 GMT
Jury deliberating in the DePape trial

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Louise Thomas

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A jury found David DePape guilty of two federal counts after he allegedly attacked former House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul Pelosi during a 2022 home invasion-turned-brutal bludgeoning.

Mr DePape had pleaded not guilty to two federal charges: one count of attempting to kidnap a federal official and one count of assault on a federal official’s immediate family member.

Following the verdict, the Pelosi family released 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.”

The statement said that Mr Pelosi’s family was “proud” of him after he “demonstrated extraordinary composure and courage on the night of the attack a year ago and in the courtroom this week,” adding that he continues to “make progress in his recovery.”

The jury’s decision comes after a tear-filled testimony from Mr DePape, 43, on Tuesday and a harrowing account from Mr Pelosi, 83, on Monday. Jury deliberations began Wednesday.

On the stand, the 43-year-old told the courtroom about what led him to commit the attack, explaining how he was under the influence of QAnon conspiracy theories. He described watching conservative podcasters on YouTube and coming to believe in a conspiracy that “everything was a lie coming from the press” about Donald Trump, CNN reported.

Mr DePape told the jurors that he had a list of targets — including Ms Pelosi, actor Tom Hanks, and California Gov Gavin Newsom — but the former House speaker’s husband was not one of them. So, he said he was “surprised and confused” when he found the congresswoman was not home.

“He was never my target and I’m sorry that he got hurt,” Mr DePape said. About hitting Mr Pelosi, he explained, “I reacted because my plan was basically ruined.”

On Monday, Mr Pelosi recounted how he, too, was in “tremendous sense of shock” when he saw an intruder in his home. He said that “looking at him and looking at the hammer and the ties, I recognised that I was in serious danger.”

Mr Pelosi managed to call 911 before Mr DePape told him he was tired and wanted to nap; Mr Pelosi led the home intruder down a winding staircase. That’s when the police arrived. Body camera footage caught the moment that Mr DePape hit Mr Pelosi over the head with a hammer, fracturing his skull.

“I have not discussed this incident with anybody,” the 83-year-old said.“I’ve tried to put it out of my mind. I made the best effort I possibly can to not re-live this.”

On the first day of the trial, the defence team admitted that Mr DePape had carried out the attack. However, his lawyers argued that the 43-year-old’s reason for the attack did not align with the charges against him.

“This case is about whether David acted because of, on account of, Nancy Pelosi’s duties as a member of Congress. He didn’t,” Jodi Linker, Mr DePape’s lawyer, said. “And he only struck Paul Pelosi in a quick moment of despair because the police arrived and his larger plan was thwarted.”

By contrast, Assistant US Attorney Laura Vartain Horn argued that Mr DePape saw Nancy Pelosi as “evil, a liar and leader of the pack” of public figures that he was seeking out and that the attack was retribution for the California Democrat’s work in Congress.

Mr DePape also faces state charges, to which he has pleaded not guilty, including counts of attempted murder, burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, among others. He is set to appear in San Francisco Superior Court on 29 November.

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