David DePape awaits verdict in Paul Pelosi assault trial with jury deliberations underway

Jury deliberations were underway Wednesday in the federal trial of David DePape, the man accused of bludgeoning former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul Pelosi with a hammer at the couple’s San Francisco mansion last year, following the conclusion of closing arguments.

DePape is charged with attempting to kidnap a federal official and assaulting an immediate family member of a federal official with intent to retaliate against the official for performance of their duties. His attorneys argued that he was not seeking to go after Nancy Pelosi because of her official duties as a member of Congress and so the charges did not fit.  

If convicted, DePape faces life in prison. 

Testimony in the case wrapped up Tuesday, highlighted by DePape’s tearful recounting of the events on Oct. 28, 2022, that led to DePape striking Paul Pelosi multiple times with a hammer, fracturing his skull and injuring his hands and arms. The 43-year-old DePape told jurors he went to the Pelosis’ home as part of a bigger plot to end what he viewed as government corruption. 

David DePape weeps while testifying at his federal trial in the attack on Paul Pelosi, Nov. 14, 2023.

Sketch by Vicki Behringer

He described his worldview as shaped by incessant consumption of extreme right-wing media and aligned with QAnon-inspired conspiracy theories.

A list of targets

The intrusion at the Pelosis’ home was to be the first in a list of targets that included progressive politicians and celebrities that he came to believe were part of a sinister cabal driving the country to ruin. Other names on his list included California Gov. Gavin Newsom, California Congressman Adam Schiff, actor Tom Hanks, President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, and Bay Area scholar and University of Michigan professor of women’s and queer studies Dr. Gayle Rubin, identified as Target 1 in court papers.

DePape, a Canadian citizen who was living in a garage in Richmond at the time of the attack, testified that his plan was to get Nancy Pelosi and other targets to admit to their corruption. “If she lied, I would break her kneecaps,” he said. “The choice is on her.” He then wanted President Joe Biden to pardon the targets “so we can move forward as a country.”

Terrifying attack

In testimony Monday, Paul Pelosi gave his account of the attack publicly for the first time. He said he was awakened by a man bursting into the bedroom door and repeatedly asking, “Where’s Nancy?” Pelosi told him she was in Washington DC, to which he responded that he was going to have to wait for her.

“He said, she was the leader of the pack, he had to take her out, he was going to wait for her,” said Pelosi. “He was going to tie me up and wait for her.”

Pelosi said he was able to grab his cellphone and called 911, but when police arrived DePape told him he was going to have “to take you out.” 

“He was never my target and I’m sorry that he got hurt,” DePape said.

“I reacted because my plan was basically ruined,” he said when asked why he hit Pelosi.

DePape has pleaded not guilty to charges in state court of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, residential burglary and other felonies. A state trial has not been scheduled.

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