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Feds need time for ‘substantial’ discovery in Paul Pelosi attack case

David DePape stands accused of attacking Paul Pelosi and planning to kidnap House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — Paul Pelosi attack suspect David DePape briefly appeared in federal court Wednesday, where prosecutors told the court they are engaged in “substantial discovery” of evidence in the case.

DePape, 42, of the San Francisco suburb Richmond, is accused of violently attacking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer at the couple's San Francisco home in October. He also faces charges in state court. 

Federal prosecutors charged DePape with one count of assault of an immediate family member of a United States official with the intent to retaliate against the official on account of the performance of official duties, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. He also faces one count of attempted kidnapping of a United States official on account of the performance of official duties, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

DePape, a Canadian citizen who authorities say has been living in the United States illegally for years, pleaded not guilty to all charges. The feds say he made many online posts with antisemitic and QAnon conspiracy theories, and attempted a suicide mission to kidnap Nancy Pelosi and “break her kneecaps” as an example to his other political targets. 

Pelosi suffered blunt force trauma to his head and body in the October attack and received treatment for a skull fracture and injuries to other limbs, according to Speaker Pelosi. 

DePape, who remains in custody with the San Francisco County Sheriff’s Department, appeared in court cuffed in orange alongside his lawyer, Angela Chuang from the Office of the Federal Public Defender. 

The federal government’s lead attorney Laura Vartain told U.S. District Court Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley that in the last three weeks, prosecutors have been handling “substantial discovery” of evidence for their case. She said they should be able to wrap up that process by the end of the year, and asked to return to court on Feb. 8. Chaung agreed that will be sufficient time to present to the court.

When Corley asked how the feds are coordinating with the state case, Vartain said she speaks with San Francisco prosecutors often.

Corley set a hearing for Feb. 8 to review discovery.

DePape has also pleaded not guilty to all charges brought by the San Francisco County DA, including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, residential burglary, false imprisonment and threatening the life of or causing serious bodily harm to a public official. A preliminary hearing in that case is set for Dec. 14.

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