Jury finds man who attacked Nancy Pelosi's husband guilty of federal assault, attempted kidnapping

ByStephanie Sierra KGO logo
Friday, November 17, 2023
David DePape guilty on all federal charges in attack on Paul Pelosi
A guilty verdict was declared on Wednesday for David DePape, the man charged with the attack on Paul Pelosi and convicted of federal assault and attempted kidnapping.

SAN FRANCISCO -- A guilty verdict was declared on Wednesday for David DePape, the man charged with the attack on Paul Pelosi and convicted of federal assault and attempted kidnapping.

After one and a half days of deliberating, the jury returned to the courtroom with a unanimous decision.

The 43-year-old could face up to 50 years in federal prison. He showed no emotion as the judge read aloud his fate.

U.S. Attorney Ismail Ramsey says this verdict sends a strong message to the country.

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"In America, one's free to believe whatever they want and engage in impassioned political debate, but this guilty verdict on all counts sends a clear message, that regardless of what your beliefs are, what you cannot do is physically attack a member of Congress or their family for their performance of their job," Ramsey said.

A statement released from a spokesperson for Speaker Pelosi and the Pelosi family said:

"Speaker Pelosi and her family are deeply grateful for the outpouring of prayers and warm wishes for Mr. Pelosi from so many across the country during this difficult time. 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. Thankfully, Mr. Pelosi continues to make progress in his recovery."

President Joe Biden was briefed on the verdict by ABC News.

"Mr. President, the Pelosi attacker was found guilty. Your reaction?" ABC's Fritz Farrow asked.

Biden responded with a thumbs up as he walked off stage during an APEC event.

PREVIOUS REPORT: Jurors begin deliberating in the trial of the man who attacked Nancy Pelosi's husband

"I look forward to the sentencing phase of this litigation," Ramsey said.

DePape's federal sentence may be postponed depending on what happens in the state case.

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins told ABC7 News, "We will confer with the federal prosecutors and with the victim in this case as we determine what our next steps in the state case will be. Mr. DePape is facing a different set of charges in our case, including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, and false imprisonment. We are confident in our case and are prepared to move forward to trial."

Legal analyst Adam Gasner says there are several ways both cases could proceed from here.

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"What do you think is most likely to happen?" ABC7 News' Stephanie Sierra asked.

"I think it's very likely he'll be sentenced in state court and the judge here will allow that sentence to be concurrent, meaning at the same time, as the federal sentence that's going to be imposed presumably next month," Gasner said.

DePape has been transported to the San Francisco County Jail, where he will be held until his first sentencing hearing that's scheduled for early December. Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley will be making that decision.

The Oct. 28 attack last year came roughly two months before the Jan. 6 insurrection- a time where members of Congress faced an unprecedented number of threats, often inspired by far-right conspiracies and gross misinformation. Throughout the trial the government made a strong argument that DePape's case is a prime example of that.

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Jury pool for David DePape, the man charged with attack on Paul Pelosi in his San Francisco home last year discuss politics, biases and QAnon.

The defendant testified in tears Tuesday about what fueled him to carry out his so-called "suicide mission," explaining he would spend six hours per day learning about conspiracies on YouTube and listening to far-right podcasts discussing false political narratives about several of his targets.

Gasner told ABC7 News, the verdict came down to the facts of the case. The jury was instructed to consider the evidence presented and decide whether or not it proves the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

The defense argued David DePape wasn't motivated by Nancy Pelosi's official duties as a member of Congress. Legal analysts say it's not surprising the jury didn't believe that, considering the substantial amount of evidence against DePape. This includes the defendant admitting multiple times his intent was to take the former Speaker hostage and break her kneecaps, so he could wheel her onto the House floor to make an example out of her.

The defendant showed no remorse for his actions as he re-watched video evidence of the break-in and assault. He candidly described waking up Paul Pelosi in his upstairs bedroom with zip ties and a hammer in his hand as if it was an average occurrence. The only time DePape formally apologized for any of his actions was during a call to a local reporter where he said he was "sorry he didn't get more of them" referring to his other targets.

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Nancy Pelosi revealed how she got the news that her husband, Paul, had been attacked inside the family's San Francisco home by David DePape.

The trial certainly had its fair share of oddities - including DePape planning to wear an inflatable unicorn costume to confront Pelosi, his ex-partner passing out flyers about false conspiracies, and the Gogi berry snacks packed in with video games he brought to the crime scene to help the time go by. Not to mention, $9,000 in cash he withdrew to help expense his journey to find his many other targets, prosecutors said.

While many may have presumed this was an open-and-shut case, Gasner says the fact the jury didn't come out fast suggests some of them may have disagreed.

"It's a really diligent jury," Gasner said. "They did not take it lightly. It's what we want in our jurors."