Man guilty of assault in Paul Pelosi hammer attack

  • By Max Matza in San Francisco and Nadine Yousif
  • BBC News

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Paul Pelosi was seriously injured in the attack

A man who attacked the husband of former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been found guilty by a jury in San Francisco.

The assailant, David DePape, was convicted of assault and attempted kidnapping of a federal official.

The attack left Paul Pelosi, 83, in hospital for six days with a fractured skull and other injuries.

DePape, who tearfully apologised for the attack in his Tuesday testimony, now faces up to 50 years in prison.

He was convicted on Thursday after a week-long trial at the Phillip Burton Federal Courthouse in downtown San Francisco.

As the unanimous verdict was read, he kept his eyes down, fidgeting with his fingers.

Video evidence shows the attacker, a Canadian citizen who has lived in the US for 20 years, breaking into the Pelosi home in San Francisco with a hammer on 28 October last year.

Once inside, he asked for Mrs Pelosi, who was not home at the time.

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

David DePape, seen here in a 2013 file photo

Officers responding to a 911 call from Mr Pelosi found both men gripping a hammer.

When asked to drop the weapon, DePape abruptly swung the hammer at Mr Pelosi before being subdued by officers.

The entire encounter was caught on body camera footage which was played in court.

One of the witnesses, an FBI special agent, testified that the footage showed the attacker striking Mr Pelosi three times.

In his own testimony, Mr Pelosi told the court that during the attack, DePape said his intention was to “take out” Mrs Pelosi, referring to her as “the leader of the pack”.

In addition to a fractured skull, Mr Pelosi suffered injuries to his arm and hand.

DePape’s court-appointed lawyer Jodi Linker argued that, while her client did attack Mr Pelosi, he did so because he believed in right-wing conspiracy theories with “every ounce of his being”.

Ms Linker said DePape blamed what he saw as America’s demise on corrupt elites using their status to spread lies, including facilitating the sexual abuse of children.

She argued that DePape was motivated by these conspiracies instead of Mrs Pelosi’s government position.

Prosecutors, however, argued that DePape was looking for Mrs Pelosi as part of a “plan of violence”.

When he was arrested, he had zip ties and duct tape in his possession.

He also told investigators after the incident that he had a “target list” and planned to hold Mrs Pelosi captive and break “her kneecaps” if she did not reveal “the truth”.

On Monday, Mr Pelosi recalled waking up to find DePape “standing in the doorway”.

“It was a tremendous shock, looking at him, looking at the hammer and the ties,” he added. “I recognised I was in serious danger. I tried to stay as calm as possible.”

At the time of the attack, Mrs Pelosi was the Speaker of the House of Representatives and one of the most powerful politicians in the US.

DePape now faces up to 20 years in prison for the attempted kidnapping charge, as well as an additional 30 years for assault on a federal official’s family member.

Video caption,

Police bodycam footage shows attack on Paul Pelosi

DePape is also facing separate state charges stemming from the incident, including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, and residential burglary.

He could face life in prison if convicted of the more serious state charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

A statement from Mrs Pelosi’s office following Thursday’s verdict said her husband had “demonstrated extraordinary composure and courage on the night of the attack a year ago and in the courtroom this week”.

Mr Pelosi “continues to make progress in his recovery” the statement said, adding that no further comment would be made given the ongoing state proceedings.


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