San Francisco

Attacker of Nancy Pelosi's husband also found guilty of kidnapping and could face more prison time

David DePape has already been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison on charges stemming from his 2022 attack on Paul Pelosi.

David Depape.
Michael Short | San Francisco Chronicle | AP

A man who bludgeoned Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer and was sentenced to 30 years in federal court was also convicted Friday of aggravated kidnapping by a state court which could put him behind bars for life.

A federal judge last month sentenced David DePape to 30 years in federal prison for the 2022 attack against Paul Pelosi.

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A San Francisco jury on Friday found DePape also guilty of first-degree burglary, false imprisonment of an elder, threatening a family member of a public official, dissuading a witness to the charges and aggravated kidnapping.

DePape’s public defender Adam Lipson told the jury during closing arguments that DePape was guilty of three of the charges but that prosecutors had not presented evidence to convict him of threatening a family member of a public official and aggravated kidnapping.

Prosecutors added those two charges in late May, as DePape’s federal trial was wrapping up.

A federal jury convicted DePape of assaulting a federal official’s family member and attempting to kidnap a federal official. On May 28, he was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison during an unusual resentencing hearing that resulted from judicial error. DePape will likely be deported back to Canada after he completes his punishment.

Lipson earlier argued that the state trial represents double jeopardy following the federal conviction. Even though the criminal counts are not the same, the two cases stem from the same act, he told the judge.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Harry Dorfman agreed and dismissed the state charges of attempted murder, elder abuse and assault with a deadly weapon. Another judge upheld the decision on appeal.

Lipson focused his closing arguments on explaining to the jury that prosecutors did not prove DePape kidnapped Paul Pelosi, who was 82 at the time, with the intent “to exact from another person money or something valuable,” which is integral to the charge.

Prosecutors said the valuable thing DePape wanted from the kidnapping was to create a video of Nancy Pelosi confessing to crimes he believed she had committed, prosecutors said.

Lipson argued the video didn’t exist and if it did, it wouldn’t have had any value.

During the trial, the man admitted he broke into the Pelosis' California home in October 2022 with the intention of holding Nancy Pelosi hostage.

“When he broke into the Pelosis’ home his intent was to confront and potentially hurt and assault Nancy Pelosi. That was his intent at that time, that has nothing to do with Mr. Pelosi,” he said.

In her rebuttal, Assistant District Attorney Phoebe Maffei pointed out DePape told a detective and testified in federal court that he planned to get a video of Nancy Pelosi confessing to what he believed to be crimes and post it on the internet.

“There is inherent value in a video of the Speaker of the House confessing to crimes in her own home,” Maffei said.

The attack on Paul Pelosi was captured on police body camera video just days before the 2022 midterm elections and shocked the political world. He suffered two head wounds including a skull fracture that was mended with plates and screws he will have for the rest of his life. His right arm and hand were also injured.

On Monday, Maffei told the jury DePape unleashed a “reign of terror” on Paul Pelosi before bludgeoning him with a hammer as part of a plan he put together over months.

“The plain facts of this case are terrifying by themselves without embellishment,” Maffei said. “David DePape broke into the home of an 82-year-old man while he slept, entered his bedroom, held him hostage with a hammer, threatened him, threatened his wife and attempted to kill him.”

DePape admitted during his federal trial testimony that he planned to hold Nancy Pelosi hostage, record his interrogation of her, and “break her kneecaps” if she did not admit to the lies he said she told about “Russiagate,” a reference to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Lipson told the jury during closing arguments that before the attack, DePape was living an isolated, lonely life and “went down the rabbit hole of propaganda and conspiracy theories.”

This week the judge expelled DePape’s former partner from the public gallery and the second floor of the San Francisco courthouse because the judge said she was trying to tamper with the jury.

On Monday and Tuesday, Gypsy Taub, a well-known activist in the Bay Area, handed out pieces of paper outside the courtroom with the address of a website she runs that promotes conspiracy theories. The cards were also found in a women’s bathroom near the courtroom where the website’s address was scrawled in marker on a wall.

“You have been trying to corruptly influence one or more jury members,” Dorfman said sternly before asking two bailiffs to escort Taub out of the courtroom.

DePape’s federal public defender said during his federal sentencing that DePape was first exposed to extreme beliefs by Taub, who has two children with DePape.

Taub met DePape in Hawaii when he was 20 years old and she was in her 30s and pregnant, DePape’s twin sister, Joanne Robinson, said in a letter to the federal judge seeking leniency.

Robinson wrote that Taub isolated DePape from his family and inflicted “extreme psychological damage” on her brother.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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