Man who broke into Nancy Pelosi's home and attacked her husband with hammer convicted of assault

David DePape (AP)
David DePape (AP)

A man who broke into former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's home and attacked her husband has been found guilty of federal charges of attempted kidnapping and assault.

David DePape forced his way into Mrs Pelosi's San Francisco home on October 28 last year seeking to hold her hostage, before attacking her husband with a hammer.

A jury deliberated for about eight hours on Thursday before finding ePapre guilty of attempted kidnapping of a federal official, and assault on the immediate family member of a federal official. He faces up to 50 years in prison.

The attack on then-82-year-old Paul Pelosi that was captured on police body camera video just days before last year's midterm elections sent shockwaves through the political world.

DePape, 43, admitted during trial testimony that he broke into the Pelosis' home, intending to hold Mrs Pelosi hostage and "break her kneecaps" if she lied to him.

He also admitted to bludgeoning Mr Pelosi with a hammer after San Francisco police officers showed up at the home, saying his plan to end what he viewed as government corruption was unravelling.

Nancy and Paul Pelosi (AFP via Getty Images)
Nancy and Paul Pelosi (AFP via Getty Images)

During his testimony, DePape echoed right-wing conspiracy theories and told jurors he had planned to wear an inflatable unicorn costume and record his interrogation of Nancy Pelosi to upload it online.

Prosecutors say he had rope and zip ties with him. Detectives also found body cameras, a computer and a tablet.

DePape testified that his plan was to get Mrs Pelosi to admit that she had been lying to the American people. "If she lied, I would break her kneecaps," he said. "The choice is on her."

He said he would then move to other targets, including a women's and queer studies professor who testified at the trial, California Governor Gavin Newsom, actor Tom Hanks and President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden.

Mr Pelosi also testified, recalling how he was awakened by a large man bursting into the bedroom door and asking, "Where's Nancy?" He said that when he responded that his wife was in Washington, DePape said he would tie him up while they waited for her.

"It was a tremendous sense of shock to recognise that somebody had broken into the house and looking at him and looking at the hammer and the ties, I recognised that I was in serious danger, so I tried to stay as calm as possible," Mr Pelosi told jurors.

Mr Pelosi recounted how he managed to call 911 with DePape looking on, urging Mr Pelosi to tell police that he was a friend. Mr Pelosi said he tried to tell police what was happening without aggravating DePape.

Mr Pelosi recalled being thankful when the police arrived, only for DePape to then hit him with the hammer. He said he woke up in a pool of his own blood.

More than a year after the attack, Mr Pelosi said hhe still hasn't fully recovered. A neurosurgeon who operated on him testified that Mr Pelosi had two wounds on his head, including a fracture to his skull that had to be mended with plates and screws he will have for the rest of his life. He also needed stitches on injuries to his right arm and hand, the surgeon said.

DePape testified he thought Mr Pelosi was dead until he saw he was charged by San Francisco prosecutors with attempted murder.

"He was never my target and I'm sorry that he got hurt," DePape said.

Defence lawyer Angela Chuang told jurors during closing arguments that DePape was caught up in conspiracies. She said he was motivated by his political beliefs, not because he wanted to interfere with Mrs Pelosi's official duties as a member of Congress, making the charges against him invalid.

During her rebuttal, prosecutor Helen Gilbert said the defence had made a false distinction between the California Democrat's politics and official duties and that DePape didn't differentiate between the two.

Defence lawyer Jodi Linker argued that DePape believed "with every ounce of his being" that he was taking action to stop government corruption, the erosion of liberty in America, and the abuse of children by liberal politicians and actors.