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Thursday, July 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Paul Pelosi hammer attacker convicted of all charges in state trial, may face life in prison

A sentencing date will be set after an August trial to determine the aggravating factors of the charges.

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — A 12-person jury in San Francisco state court returned a guilty verdict on all counts against David DePape, the man accused of breaking into former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home in October 2022 and fracturing her husband Paul’s skull with a hammer.

DePape faced charges of false imprisonment, residential burglary, threatening a family member of a public official, attempting to sway a witness and aggravated kidnapping. The aggravated kidnapping charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

DePape sat next to his public defender, Adam Lipson, while the verdict was read. He did not react to the verdict.

DePape admitted to the attack on Paul Pelosi but pleaded not guilty.

Lipson said that he would not contest the residential burglary charges or the charges that DePape prevented or dissuaded a witness by force or threat because DePape clearly broke into the Pelosi residence and stood over Paul Pelosi with the hammer when Paul called 911.

A trial on the aggravating factors of the charges is set for Aug. 6. DePape’s sentencing will occur after that. DePape was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his crime in the federal trial, which was held in November.

The 12-person jury deliberated for 11 1/2 hours over two days before reaching its verdict. The trial lasted for three weeks. 

During the trial, the prosecution showed the jury graphic police body camera footage of the attack on Paul Pelosi. Jurors visually recoiled at the sight of DePape hitting Pelosi in the head with the hammer.

Pelosi testified during the trial and said that he is still suffering negative effects from the attack nearly two years later. He said DePape awoke him the night of the attack by bursting through his bedroom door demanding to see Nancy Pelosi. DePape said he wanted to “take out” Nancy Pelosi, he testified.

No witnesses for the defense were called during the trial.

In his federal trial, DePape testified in his own defense and said he believed Nancy Pelosi was a part of a cabal of elites controlling the country, indoctrinating children and trampling on the rights of Americans. He said the former house speaker and other progressive politicians smeared former President Donald Trump during the 2016 election.

Lipson said during the trial that DePape was suffering from a schizoid personality disorder that left him unable to control his actions and emotions and left him prone to fantastical, delusional thinking.

Lipson told the jury during closing arguments that charges of aggravated kidnapping should not stick because the prosecution had not proven that DePape held Paul Pelosi with the intent to get money or an item of value from another person, which is integral to the charge.

Prosecutors said during the trial that the item of value DePape sought was a video where he interrogated Nancy Pelosi and got her to admit to corruption in Washington, D.C.

Police investigators who testified during the trial contradicted Lipson’s assertion that DePape was mentally ill, testifying that DePape was lucid in the hours after the attack. In addition to the investigators and Pelosi, a doctor who operated on him the night of the attack also testified.

DePape originally faced attempted murder, elder abuse and assault with a deadly weapon charges before Superior Court Judge Harry Dorfman dismissed the charges midtrial. 

DePape filed sought in May to dismiss multiple counts against him under California’s double jeopardy laws, which he argued shielded him from being tried more than once for the same offense, referring to his federal court conviction for the same attack.

A trial on the aggravated factors of the counts is scheduled for August. The prosecution and Lipson declined to comment on the verdict outside of the courtroom.

Categories / Criminal, Trials

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