David DePape found guilty in federal court of trying to kidnap Nancy Pelosi, attacking her husband

David Depape is shown in Berkeley, Calif.,on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. An intruder attacked and severely beat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband with a hammer in the couple's San Francisco home early Friday, Oct. 28, 2022, while searching for the Democratic leader. Police were called to the home to check on Paul Pelosi when they discovered the 82-year-old and the suspect, Depape, both grabbing onto the hammer, said Police Chief William Scott.(Michael Short/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)
David DePape was found guilty on federal charges of attempting to kidnap former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and assaulting her husband with a hammer. (Michael Short/Associated Press)

David DePape was found guilty in a San Francisco federal court on Thursday of attempting to kidnap former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and assaulting her husband with a hammer after he broke into the couple's home last year.

The jury of 10 men and two women spent a day deliberating the two federal charges before reaching their verdict, concluding a high-profile and, at times, bizarre trial that lasted only four days.

DePape sat quietly beside his attorneys as the verdict was read and did not outwardly react to the decision.

“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," a spokesperson wrote in a statement in response to the verdict. "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."

Read more: Man accused of attacking Paul Pelosi, stirring up right-wing conspiracies, faces San Francisco jury

The case consumed the nation for more than a year, with former President Trump and conservative commentators using the attack to rile up their far-right base and swipe at the Democratic congresswoman, raising broader concerns over political violence and the safety of public officials and their families.

The jurors reached their decision even with the defense's claims that DePape, 43, was motivated not by violence but by a network of political conspiracy theories he harbored against Democrats and other public figures and elected officials.

He faces up to a combined 50 years in prison, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

"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 immediate family for their performance of their job," Ismail Ramsey, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, said at a news conference outside the courthouse.

Despite the overwhelming and highly publicized evidence against DePape from police body-camera video and interviews — as well as his multiple confessions — it was never a straightforward assault case because the federal trial focused on his intent, not whether he committed the violent act.

Still-pending state charges accuse DePape of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, burglary and threats to a public official and their family. But the federal trial centered on whether DePape was motivated to assault Paul Pelosi and attempt to kidnap Speaker Pelosi because of her official duties in Congress.

Read more: Suspect in Paul Pelosi attack believes conspiracies but didn't try to kidnap House speaker, attorney says

Prosecutors therefore had to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that DePape intended to kidnap the lawmaker “on account of or during the performance of her official duties" and that he assaulted her husband in an effort to “impede, intimidate or interfere” with her official duties or in retaliation for her work.

Assistant U.S. Attys. Laura Vartain Horn and Helen Gilbert provided a clear picture of DePape's "violent plan" on the night he traveled from his East Bay residence to the Pelosis' Pacific Heights home in October 2022. They reviewed his recent Amazon purchases and internet search history — including his paid subscription to a service that provided email and home addresses — to demonstrate how he spent months preparing for the attack.

The prosecutors showed jurors the graphic police body-camera video of DePape bludgeoning Paul Pelosi with the hammer, fracturing the then-82-year-old man's skull and seriously injuring his right arm and left hand.

"This is the moment where Paul Pelosi ends up attacked in the dead of night in his own home, lying on the floor in a pool of his own blood," Gilbert said in her closing argument as a still frame of the moment before the attack was displayed on courtroom screens.

Jurors heard portions of a police interview in which DePape said he considered Speaker Pelosi the Democrats' "leader of the pack," and said he would "break her kneecaps" if she didn't admit to corruption and other unfounded claims of human trafficking and child abuse by public figures. He told the officer that Pelosi would have to wheel herself into Congress, where other lawmakers could see the "f— consequence to being the most evil f— people on the planet."

"She was the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives," Gilbert said. "She was the head of the Democratic Party in the House. That was her job. And because of her job, the defendant targeted her."

Gilbert pointed out that DePape brought zip ties, rope and duct tape as additional evidence that he intended to hold Speaker Pelosi hostage.

"This is attempted kidnapping. He attempted to seize and confine her, and he brought the tools to do it," she said. And when he learned that Pelosi was in Washington and wouldn't be home for days, Gilbert argued, DePape instead "inflicted the punishment he meant for Nancy Pelosi" on her husband.

"That is retaliation," she said.

Paul Pelosi also offered chilling details of the break-in and assault, testifying that he knew he was in "serious danger" and that his only hope was calling 911.

“There are still lumps on my head. If I run my fingers, I can still feel dents and lumps,” he told the jurors. “I’ve made the best effort I possibly can to not relive this."

Read more: Paul Pelosi testifies that he knew he was in 'serious danger' before hammer attack

DePape's attorneys, federal public defenders Jodi Linker and Angela Chuang, never disputed that their client "did horrible things" and "committed serious crimes." Instead, they argued that he was inspired by elaborate and baseless conspiracy theories that may have seemed "bogus" but were nonetheless his deeply held beliefs.

In a powerful closing argument, Chuang said the case was not a "who done it" but a "why done it."

"Mr. DePape didn’t go to that house because he had some particular fixation against only Nancy Pelosi," she said. "He didn’t go there because of anything she did in her official duties or as speaker of the House."

The Pelosis' home was only the first stop in a cross-country plan to target other powerful people in America he believed were involved in QAnon-like conspiracy theories of criminal activity, Chuang said. His goal was to "root out the corruption of the ruling class, the cabal, to stop the molestation of children and expose the truth to everyone."

"They want you to believe this was just about Nancy Pelosi, that he was singularly focused. But that’s not true," Chuang said.

In testimony Tuesday, DePape rejected the argument that he had plans to kidnap the former speaker, or that he assaulted her husband because of her role in Congress.

He detailed his descent into political extremism and far-right conspiracy theories, and claimed that the Pelosis' home was only the first step in his broader anti-corruption plan.

“I didn’t want this to escalate into something where [Paul Pelosi] would get hurt,” he told the jury.

The defense also scrutinized Speaker Pelosi's schedule in efforts to convince the jury that she was not always engaged in official business.

Their point was that DePape could not be guilty of the federal charges in connection with the lawmaker's official duties, because there were many points in her schedule when she was engaging in politics, such as campaign fundraising or lunches with advocacy organizations or getting a haircut, and not executing her job as speaker of the House.

Chuang argued that DePape was inspired to break into the Pelosis' home not because of any law Pelosi helped pass, or how she was running the House, but because of her political activities with the national Democratic Party and what he described in police interviews as political attacks against Trump.

Read more: Man charged in Paul Pelosi attack details descent into conspiracy theories during federal trial

In comparison, Chuang explained that DePape planned to also target Gov. Gavin Newsom because he had recently signed a gun control bill, more clearly an official duty.

Pelosi "has a work life, a personal life and a political life," Chuang said, adding that although she was a member of Congress and speaker of the House, "that doesn't mean she is always performing official duties."

The argument was strong enough, it seemed, that after closing arguments Wednesday morning, the jury needed 24 hours to reach a verdict.

A hearing to set a trial date on DePape's state charges is scheduled for Nov. 29.

"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," San Francisco Dist. Atty. Brooke Jenkins said in a statement. "We are confident in our case and are prepared to move forward to trial."

Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.