SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A jury on Thursday convicted the man who broke into the former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy PelosiThe San Francisco home wants to hold her hostage and attacked her husband with a hammer on federal charges of attempted kidnapping and assault.
Jurors deliberated for about eight hours before finding David Depapp guilty of attempted kidnapping of a federal employee and assault on a federal employee’s immediate family member. Depapp, who faces up to 50 years in prison, did not react when the sentence was read.
The attack on the then 82-year-old Paul Pelosi which was captured on video by a police body camera just days before last year’s midterm elections sent shockwaves through the political world.
Depapp, 43, admitted during trial testimony that he broke into the Pelosi home on Oct. 28, 2022, intending to hold Nancy Pelosi hostage and “break her kneecaps” if she lied to him . He also admitted to hitting Paul Pelosi with a hammer after San Francisco police officers showed up at the home, saying his plan to end what he saw as government corruption was failing.
Defense attorneys and prosecutors did not immediately comment on the verdict. The US Department of Justice plans to hold a press conference later in the day.
A sentencing date has not yet been set. A status hearing is scheduled for Dec. 13.
Defense attorneys argued that Depapp was motivated by his political beliefs and not because he wanted to interfere with Nancy Pelosi’s official duties as a member of Congress, making the charges against him invalid. One of his lawyers, Angela Chuang, told jurors during closing arguments Wednesday that Depapp was involved in conspiracies.
During her rebuttal, prosecutor Helen Gilbert said the defense made a false distinction between politics and the California Democrat’s official duties, and that Depapp did not distinguish between the two.
Depapp, a Canadian citizen who moved to the U.S. more than 20 years ago, is also charged in state court with assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, residential burglary and other crimes. A state trial date will be set at a Nov. 29 hearing, San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said. She said her office will consult with federal prosecutors and Pelosis to determine next steps.
During his testimony, Depapp echoed right-wing conspiracy theories and told jurors he planned to wear an inflatable unicorn suit and record his questioning of Nancy Pelosi to upload online. Prosecutors say he was wearing rope and zip ties. Criminal investigators also found television cameras, a computer and a tablet.
Depapp testified that his plan was to get Nancy Pelosi to admit that she lied to the American people. “If she lied, I’d break her kneecaps,” he said. “The choice is hers.”
He said he would then move to other purposesincluding a women’s and queer studies professor who testified at the trial, California Governor Gavin Newsom, actor Tom Hanks and President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden.
Paul Pelosi also testified, recalling being awakened by a large man who burst into the bedroom door and asked, “Where’s Nancy?” He said that when he replied that his wife was in Washington, Depapp said he would ties him up while they wait for her.
“It was a huge sense of shock to find out that someone had broken into the house and looking at him and looking at the hammer and the ties I knew I was in serious danger so I tried to keep as calm as possible.” Pelosi told jurors.
Pelosi recounted how he was able to call 911 with a look at Depapp, urging Pelosi to tell police he was a friend. Pelosi said he tried to tell police what was going on without aggravating DePape.
Pelosi recalled that he was grateful when the police arrived, only for Depapp to hit him with the hammer. He said he woke up in a pool of his own blood.
More than a year after the attack, he still has not fully recovered, Pelosi said. A neurosurgeon who operated on him testified that Pelosi had two wounds to his head, including a skull fracture that had to be fixed with plates and screws that he would wear for the rest of his life. Pelosi also needed stitches to injuries to her right arm and hand, the surgeon said.
A spokesman for Nancy Pelosi issued a statement after the sentencing, saying that Paul Pelosi “continues to make progress in his recovery” and that the family is grateful for the outpouring of support for him from people across the US.
Depapp testified that he thought Paul Pelosi was dead until he saw that he was being charged by San Francisco prosecutors with attempted murder.
“He was never my target and I’m sorry he was hurt,” Depapp said.
He told jurors he believes news outlets have repeatedly lied about former President Donald Trump. In remarks posted to a blog and an online forum that were removed after his arrest, Depapp repeated QAnon’s baseless, right-wing conspiracy theory that the US government is run by a cabal of devil-worshiping pedophiles. He echoed QAnon-like conspiracies during his testimony, referring to the cabal and ruling elite and saying they are undermining Americans’ freedom and enabling child abuse.