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Man Found Guilty in Hammer Attack on Paul Pelosi in San Francisco Home

​David DePape reacts while testifying in San Francisco on November 14.
Illustration by Vicki Behringer via CNN Newsource

David DePape reacts while testifying in San Francisco on November 14.

By Jeffrey Kopp and Piper Hudspeth Blackburn, CNN

(CNN) — A jury has found David DePape guilty on two counts in the violent attack on Paul Pelosi, the husband of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, last year in the couple’s San Francisco home.

DePape was convicted in federal court of one count of assault on the immediate family member of a federal official, and a second count of attempted kidnapping of a federal official. He could face a maximum sentence of 30 years and 20 years on the charges, respectively.

The jury’s verdict followed high-profile testimony from DePape in his own defense and Pelosi, who recounted publicly for the first time the night that he was bludgeoned with a hammer and the difficult recovery that followed.

The harrowing October 2022 attack sent shockwaves through Washington at a time of rising threats against public officials, raising fresh concern over violence driven by increasingly hostile political rhetoric and partisan animosity. Congressional lawmakers reflected at the time on their safety as fears of political violence remained heightened in the wake of the January 6, 2021, US Capitol attack and other incidents targeting members of Congress in recent years. Then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ultimately factored the attack into her decision to step down from her leadership post.

Prosecutors claimed that DePape broke into the Pelosis’ home with “a violent plan to kidnap Nancy Pelosi” and “to hold her hostage.”

DePape’s attorney, Jodi Linker, conceded on the first day of the trial that her client was the one to attack the 83-year-old Paul Pelosi, but argued that his motivation for the assault did not match the charges against him. “This case here is about the why — the why matters. This case is about whether David acted because of, on account of, Nancy Pelosi’s duties as a member of Congress. He didn’t,” Linker had argued to the jury. “And he only struck Paul Pelosi in a quick moment of despair because the police arrived and his larger plan was thwarted.”

Testifying in his own defense on Tuesday, DePape, gave jurors a closer look at his motives before the attack, becoming emotional at times as he shared examples of conspiracy theories he felt were true.

DePape recalled that he was focused on Nancy Pelosi and that her husband, Paul, was not on his list of targets. He was “surprised and confused,” he testified, when he found out that the congresswoman was not home.

“I’m telling him, I have other targets, but if you stop me, I’ll go through you,” DePape said, recounting a conversation with Paul Pelosi, adding that he then reacted and hit him “in the head,” because his plan was “basically ruined.”

In his testimony, Pelosi recounted how he awoke from sleep the night of the attack to see a man with a hammer in his home. That man, later identified by police as DePape, asked where his wife was, he said. “She’s not here. She’s in Washington,” Pelosi recalled answering.

He later came to in a pool of blood after being violently struck in the head following a struggle with DePape, Pelosi said.

Pelosi, who underwent surgery to repair a skull fracture and injuries to his hand and arm, told jurors that his recovery has been difficult, with spells of lightheadedness and headaches. “I’ve made the best effort I possibly can to not revisit this,” he said.

The trial, which began last week, also featured testimony from responding San Francisco police officers, FBI agents and United States Capitol Police.

A state case against DePape that includes charges of attempted murder, burglary and assault is expected to go to trial later this month. He has pleaded not guilty to the state charges.

CNN’s Piper Hudspeth Blackburn, Jack Forrest, Paul LeBlanc and Veronica Miracle contributed to this report.

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