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David DePape sentenced to 30 years in hammer attack on ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband

The man convicted of attempting to kidnap then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and attacking her husband with a hammer was sentenced to 30 years in prison Friday morning.

David DePape, 44, was given the 30-year sentence by Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley in a federal courtroom in San Francisco. Prosecutors had asked for a 40-year prison term. Dressed in an orange jumpsuit, DePape stood silently as the sentence was handed down.

DePape was tried late last year for attempted kidnapping of a federal official and assault on the immediate family member of a federal official. Jurors convicted him on both counts on Nov. 16, 2023.

DePape’s defense argued for a shorter sentence of 14 years, noting that their client did not have a prior criminal history and the remorse he expressed. The judge countered that DePape remained dangerous given his statements that he would attack his other targets, despite apologizing to his victims.

Scott Corley also said DePape’s actions created an unprecedented threat forcing all public officials to weigh the risk their job might place on family members.

“We will never know everything we have lost because of this crime,” she said.

DePape was given credit for time served for the 18 months he has been in custody. The judge imposed the maximum for each count he faced — 30 years for the assault charge, 20 years for the attempted kidnapping charge — that will run concurrently.

It was later determined that the court made an error by not allowing DePape to speak during the sentencing hearing.

Prosecutors noticed the mistake Friday afternoon after the sentencing was completed and notified the court. DePape’s lawyers then filed an appeal. The error is unlikely to alter DePape’s sentence.

A new hearing has been scheduled for later in May.

“This sentence is a warning: violence against those who serve the public and their families will not be tolerated,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement released by the Department of Justice. “The Justice Department will aggressively prosecute those who target public servants and their families with violence. In a democracy, people vote, argue, and debate to achieve the policy outcome they desire.  But the promise of democracy is that people will not employ violence to affect that outcome.”

 

Justice Department speaks about sentencing of Paul Pelosi attacker David DePape

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DePape’s early morning break-in at the Pelosi home in October 2022 resulted in federal as well as state charges.  A second trial in state court will start in the coming weeks.

In a letter to the court, Nancy Pelosi asked the judge for a “very long” sentence for DePape, saying the attack “[f]illed me with great fear and deep pain.” Meanwhile, Paul Pelosi’s victim statement to the judge noted that he is still suffering dizziness, headaches, balance problems, nerve pain and walking challenges from the health impacts of the vicious attack.

Christine Pelosi read the victim impact statements on behalf of her parents. Her tone was authoritative and intentional.

During tearful testimony in his federal trial, DePape admitted that he broke into the Pelosis’ San Francisco home Oct. 28, 2022, intending to hold the speaker hostage and “break her kneecaps” if she lied to him. He also acknowledged bludgeoning Paul Pelosi with a hammer after police showed up, saying his plan to end what he viewed as government corruption was unraveling.

The attack on Paul Pelosi, who was 82 at the time, was captured on police body camera video just days before the midterm elections and sent shockwaves through the political world.

Defense attorneys argued DePape was motivated by his political beliefs, not because he wanted to interfere with the speaker’s official duties as a member of Congress, making the charges against him invalid.

One of his attorneys, Angela Chuang, said during closing arguments that DePape was caught up in conspiracy theories.

During the trial DePape, a Canadian who moved to the U.S. more than 20 years ago, testified 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 described a far-fetched plan to single-handedly “take down” a series of high-profile figures. The plan echoed the baseless, right-wing conspiracy theory QAnon, which claims that a cabal of devil-worshipping pedophiles runs the U.S. government.

DePape also told jurors he had planned to wear an inflatable unicorn costume and record his interrogation of the Democratic speaker, who was not at the home at the time of the attack, to upload it online.

Prosecutors said he had rope and zip ties with him, and detectives found body cameras, a computer and a tablet.

Paul Pelosi also testified at the trial, recalling how he was awakened by a large man bursting into the bedroom and asking, “Where’s Nancy?” He said when he responded that 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 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,” Pelosi told jurors.

Pelosi suffered two head wounds in the attack, including a skull fracture that was mended with plates and screws he will have for the rest of his life. His right arm and hand also were injured.

DePape is also charged in state court with assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, residential burglary and other felonies. Jury selection in that trial is expected to start May 22.

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