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David DePape found guilty of gavel attack on Paul Pelosi

Michael Short/San Francisco Chronicle/AP/File

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


A jury 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 assaulting an immediate family member of a federal official, the jury determining he used a dangerous weapon, and a second count of attempted kidnapping of a federal official. He could face a maximum sentence of 30 and 20 years respectively for these charges.

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

The harrowing October 2022 attack sent shockwaves through Washington at a time when threats against public officials are increasing, sparking new concerns over violence motivated by increasingly hostile political rhetoric and animosity partisan. Lawmakers in Congress then considered their safety as fears of political violence remained heightened following the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and other incidents targeting members of Congress in recent years. Nancy Pelosi, then Speaker of the House of Representatives, ultimately factored the attack into her decision to resign from her leadership post.

In a statement released after the verdict, Nancy Pelosi’s spokesperson said the California congresswoman and her family were “grateful for the outpouring of prayers,” adding that Paul Pelosi had shown “coolness and of extraordinary courage” in the courtroom this week.

However, “given the ongoing legal proceedings,” the Pelosi family will not comment further, spokesman Aaron Bennett said.

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

DePape’s lawyer, Jodi Linker, acknowledged on the first day of the trial that it was her client who attacked Paul Pelosi, 83, but argued that his motivation for the assault did not match the accusations against him. “This case is about why – why matters. This case focuses on whether David acted because of Nancy Pelosi’s duties as a member of Congress. He didn’t do it,” Linker argued before the jury. “And he only hit Paul Pelosi in a brief moment of desperation because the police arrived and his larger plan was thwarted.”

Testifying in his own defense Tuesday, DePape gave jurors a closer look at his motivations before the attack, sometimes becoming emotional 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 target list. He was “surprised and confused,” he said, when he discovered the congresswoman was not home.

“I tell him I have other targets, but if you stop me, I will run through you,” DePape said, recounting a conversation with Paul Pelosi, adding that he then reacted and punched him “to the head”. because his plan was “fundamentally ruined”.

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

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

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

He then woke up in a pool of blood after being violently hit in the head following a fight with DePape, Pelosi said.

Pelosi, who underwent surgery to repair a fractured skull and injuries to her hand and arm, told jurors her recovery had been difficult, with bouts of dizziness and headaches. “I did my best not to revisit this matter,” he said.

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

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

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said after the verdict that her team would “talk with federal prosecutors and the victim in this case to determine what our next steps will be in the state’s case.” .

“Mr. DePape faces a range of different 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 ready 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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