David DePape found guilty in Paul Pelosi hammer attack

Michael Short/San Francisco Chronicle/AP/File

David DePape is shown in Berkeley, California on December 13, 2013.


A jury has found David DePape guilty on two counts in the violent attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, last year at the couple’s San Francisco home.

DePape was convicted in federal court of one count of assault on the immediate family member of a federal official, where the jury found he used a dangerous weapon, and another count of attempted kidnapping of a federal official. He can face a maximum of 30 years in prison and 20 years for the charges, respectively.

In court Thursday, DePape had no visible reaction to the verdict. The conviction followed high-profile testimony from DePape in his own defense and from Pelosi, who said publicly that night that he was robbed with a hammer and the difficult recovery that followed.

The chilling attack in October 2022 sent shockwaves through Washington at a time of rising threats against public officials, raising new concerns about violence fueled by increasingly hostile political rhetoric and partisan animosity. Lawmakers in Congress then reflected on their security as fears of political violence remained heightened in the wake of the January 6, 2021, US Capitol attack and other incidents targeting members of Congress in recent years. Then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ultimately included the attack in her decision to step down from her leadership post.

In a statement released after the verdict, Nancy Pelosi’s spokesman said the California lawmaker and her family are “grateful for the outpouring of prayers,” adding that Paul Pelosi has shown “extraordinary calm and courage” in the courtroom in this week.

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Still, “in light of the ongoing state litigation,” the Pelosi family will not provide further comment, spokesman Aaron Bennett said.

Prosecutors alleged that DePape broke into the Pelosis’ home with “a violent plan to kidnap Nancy Pelosi” and “to hold her hostage.”

DePape’s attorney, Jodi Linker, admitted on the first day of the trial that her client was the one who attacked 83-year-old Paul Pelosi, but argued that his motivation for the assault did not match the charges against him. “This case here is about why — why matters. This case is about whether David acted because of, because of, Nancy Pelosi’s duties as a member of Congress. He didn’t,” Linker had argued to the jury. And he only hit Paul Pelosi in a quick moment of desperation because the police arrived and his bigger plan was thwarted.”

DePape, who testified in his own defense on Tuesday, gave jurors a closer look at his motives before the attack, becoming emotional at times as he shared examples of conspiracy theories he believed to be true.

DePape recalled that he was focused on Nancy Pelosi and that her husband, Paul, was not on his list of targets. He was “surprised and confused,” he testified, when he learned the congresswoman was not home.

“I tell him, I have other goals, but if you stop me, I’m going to go through you,” DePape said, recounting a conversation with Paul Pelosi, adding that he then responded by punching him “in the head.” because his plan was “basically ruined.”

In his testimony, Pelosi recounted how he woke up the night after the attack to find a man with a hammer in his home. The man, later identified by police as DePape, asked where his wife was, he said. “She’s not here. She’s in Washington,” Pelosi recalled responding.

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Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc./Getty Images

Paul Pelosi in December 2022 at the US Capitol, two months after the attack.

He later came down in a pool of blood after being forcefully punched in the head after a fight with DePape, Pelosi said.

Pelosi, who underwent surgery to repair a fractured skull and injuries to his hand and arm, told jurors that his recovery has been difficult with bouts of dizziness and headaches. “I’ve made the best effort I possibly can not to revisit this,” he said.

The trial, which began last week, also included testimony from responding San Francisco police officers, FBI agents and the United States Capitol Police.

DePape has pleaded not guilty to state charges, including attempted murder, burglary and assault, with a court date expected to be set later this month.

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said after the verdict that her 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.”

“Mr. DePape faces 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 prepared to proceed to trial,” Jenkins said.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Jack Forrest contributed to this report.

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