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Wednesday, June 5, 2024 | Back issues
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Judge’s blunder throws wrench into case against Paul Pelosi attacker

U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley acknowledged that she failed to allow David DePape to address the court before sentencing him to 30 years in prison last week.

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — A federal judge's sentencing mistake has complicated the federal government's case against David DePape, who was convicted of attempting to kidnap former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and fracturing her husband Paul’s skull with a hammer in a 2022 home invasion.

U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley, a Joe Biden appointee, sentenced DePape to 30 years in prison last Friday for the attack, but she admitted she failed to allow DePape to address the court before his sentencing, necessitating a re-do of the sentencing, due to happen on May 28.

In a Wednesday afternoon court filing, DePape contests the new sentencing date, writing that it conflicts with his state trial, which is due to start next week.

“The court violated Mr. DePape’s rights when it sentenced him without inviting him to allocute,” DePape said in the court filing. "But it cannot now cure that error by disrupting his state trial and asking Mr. DePape if he has anything to say.”

DePape has also appealed his federal conviction and sentence to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that Corley must suspend any further actions until the appeal is resolved. Meanwhile, federal prosecutors stated in a court filing last week that Corley had 14 days from the original sentencing hearing to hold another session if DePape wished to address the court.

DePape also noted that he is facing a possible life sentence in the state case, and that moving him back and forth while he is in the middle of the state trial could jeopardize his rights to a fair trial.

“Hauling Mr. DePape back into federal court would also illegally prejudice his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to present a defense and to the assistance of counsel in his state proceedings by removing him from state custody where he will be actively working with his state counsel to defend against a possible life sentence,” DePape wrote in the filing. “And this court’s rushed schedule and ongoing state trial will not afford Mr. DePape’s federal defense team adequate opportunity to prepare Mr. DePape for any resentencing hearing.”

DePape called for a judge other than Corley if he is to be resentenced.

“This court already imposed sentence, and in doing so expressed strong views about what is an appropriate sentence in this case and why. The court cannot reasonably be expected to put its previously expressed conclusions aside to fairly and appropriately resentence Mr. DePape,” he wrote.

Corley’s error is the latest twist in the case, which had been relatively straightforward since DePape was arrested in October 2022. In November, a 12-person jury deliberated for one day to convict him of attempting to kidnap Nancy Pelosi and assaulting Paul Pelosi.

At the trial, the prosecution showed the jury police body camera footage of the attack, as well as the aftermath, where DePape admitted to the attack.

DePape pleaded not guilty and testified in his own defense during the trial — he said he'd spent most of his days in a Richmond garage playing video games and listening to right-wing podcasts from Tim Pool and James Lindsay that espoused right-wing conspiracies about schools being “molestation factories.”

DePape said he believed Pelosi was a part of a cabal of elites controlling the country, indoctrinating children and trampling on the rights of Americans. He said Pelosi and other progressive politicians smeared former President Donald Trump during the 2016 election. 

He said he intended to kidnap Nancy Pelosi and “break her kneecaps," and when he found out she wasn’t home, he took Paul Pelosi hostage. He said when his plan was foiled, he decided to attack Paul, who he struck three times with a hammer.

Categories / Courts, Criminal, Trials

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