Nov 16 (Reuters) – A federal jury convicted a right-wing conspiracy theorist on Thursday of a gavel attack on the husband of former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, prosecutors said.
David Wayne DePape, 43, broke into the Pelosis’ San Francisco home and hit Paul Pelosi in the head with a hammer in the early morning hours of October 28, 2022, while Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, was still president and absent in Washington. .
The San Francisco jury, which had been deliberating since midday Wednesday, found him guilty of attempted kidnapping and assault of an immediate family member of a federal official, a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office said. .
The crimes carry potential prison sentences of 20 and 30 years, respectively, according to federal sentencing guidelines.
DePape also faces other charges, including attempted murder in California state court, which carry a potential sentence of 13 years to life in prison.
Nancy Pelosi released a statement on behalf of her family thanking people for their support and saying that Paul Pelosi continues to make progress in his recovery, but declined to comment on legal matters because the case was still ongoing.
“The Pelosi family is very proud of their Pop, who demonstrated extraordinary composure and courage on the night of the attack a year ago and in the courtroom this week,” it said. the press release.
Paul Pelosi lost consciousness and was hospitalized for several days, undergoing surgery for skull fractures. He was also injured in his hands and right arm.
Testifying for the prosecution, Pelosi said he tried not to relive the episode, including avoiding the video clip of his assault, but remembered waking up on his floor in a “pool of blood”.
Defense attorney Jodi Linker argued during the trial that DePape did not commit a federal crime because he was not motivated by Pelosi’s official duties as speaker. Instead, she argued, DePape’s firm belief in far-reaching but misguided conspiracy theories motivated him to bring down the rich and powerful ruling class.
Linker left many facts of the case undisputed, as the hammer blow was recorded by police body cameras and DePape admitted his actions while testifying in his own defense.
Evidence showed that DePape was motivated by right-wing conspiracy theories, embracing fictions spread by QAnon, questioning the Holocaust and fueling political accusations against Hunter Biden, the president’s son, and George Soros, the billionaire Holocaust survivor.
After video of the attack was made public, right-wing media outlets continued to promote unfounded claims about the attack, imagining a homosexual relationship between the two men because Pelosi was wearing sleep shorts.
DePape told the jury he wanted to kidnap Nancy Pelosi, interrogate her and break her kneecaps if he found her lying. But after breaking into the house, he found her husband, then 82, asleep in bed. DePape said the attack was a reaction to the failure of his original plan.
“He was never my target and I’m sorry he was hurt,” DePape said.
Police recovered zip ties in the bedroom and in the hallway near the front door, as well as a roll of duct tape, rope, a second hammer, a pair of gloves and a newspaper from the girl’s backpack. DePape, according to court records.
Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Christopher Cushing and David Gregorio
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