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Attacker of Nancy Pelosi's husband jailed for 30 years

By AFP

May 18, 2024 10:40 AM


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A man who attacked the elderly husband of former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a hammer was sentenced Friday to 30 years in prison.

David DePape was convicted last year of breaking into the couple's San Francisco home and bludgeoning Paul Pelosi in a horrifying attack captured on police bodycam.

At the time of the October 2022 assault, Democrat Nancy Pelosi was second in line to the presidency and a regular target of outlandish far-right conspiracy theories.

Jurors in his trial last year heard how DePape -- a Canadian former nudist activist who supported himself with occasional carpentry work -- had initially planned to target Nancy Pelosi, planning to smash her kneecaps if she did not admit to her party's "lies."

On arriving at their home armed with rope, gloves and duct tape, DePape instead encountered her then-82-year-old husband, and kept asking, "Where's Nancy?"

During what DePape told officers was a "pretty amicable" conversation with Paul Pelosi, the husband managed to call for help from law enforcement officers.

Moments later when police arrived DePape hit Pelosi with a hammer before officers rushed at him and took the weapon away.

Pelosi was knocked unconscious and had his skull fractured. He spent almost a week in a hospital, where he underwent surgery.

Nancy Pelosi was not at home the night of the attack.

Prosecutors had asked the federal court in San Francisco to sentence DePape to 40 years in prison.

In the lead up to Friday's sentencing, Nancy Pelosi had asked the judge to impose a "very long" sentence for an attack that "has had a devastating effect on three generations of our family."

"Even now, eighteen months after the home invasion and assault, the signs of blood and break-in are impossible to avoid.

"Our home remains a heartbreaking crime scene," she wrote, according to court documents cited by the San Francisco Chronicle.

On Friday her office said the family was proud of Paul Pelosi "and his tremendous courage in saving his own life on the night of the attack and in testifying in this case."

- Politicized-

DePape had pleaded not guilty to charges that included assault on a family member of a US official, and attempted kidnapping of a US official.

While not denying the attack, his defense rested on contesting federal prosecutors' claims that he had targeted Nancy Pelosi in her official capacity.

Instead, his lawyers argued that DePape was driven to target a number of prominent liberal figures, due to his exposure to a web of obscure conspiracy theories.

In social media posts, DePape shared QAnon theories and false claims that the last US election was stolen.

The trial heard how DePape did not intend to stop his supposed anti-corruption crusade with Pelosi, and had drawn up a list of other targets including a feminist academic whom he accused of turning US schools into "pedophile molestation factories."

Other personalities the defendant admitted wanting to attack included California Governor Gavin Newsom, President Joe Biden's son Hunter, and actor Tom Hanks.

Jurors took less than 10 hours to reject DePape's explanation of the attack, which took place just a few days before the US midterm elections.

The attack itself became politicized in the weeks after it occurred, with some members of the Republican Party mocking the incident and suggesting lurid and unsubstantiated explanations for why there was a man in Pelosi's house late at night.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday that DePape's sentence should serve as a warning that attacks on political figures and their families were unacceptable.

"In a democracy, people vote, argue, and debate to achieve the policy outcome they desire," he said.

"But the promise of democracy is that people will not employ violence to affect that outcome.

"The Justice Department will aggressively prosecute those who target public servants and their families with violence."


AFP


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