Tuesday, July 16, 2024

The federal jury, after deliberating for approximately eight hours and listening to a four-day trial, convicted David DePape of committing federal crimes for breaking into the San Francisco residence of Nancy Pelosi and attacking her husband with a hammer in an assault that occurred last year. The incident raised concerns about political violence leading up to the 2022 midterm elections.

During the trial, DePape’s lawyers did not dispute the evidence against him, which included police body camera footage of the attack on Paul Pelosi and DePape’s own admissions to the police and on the witness stand. DePape, 43, potentially faces a life sentence in prison.

The defense argued that DePape’s bludgeoning of Paul Pelosi, 83, while attempting to kidnap his wife, did not amount to federal crimes. They asserted that DePape did not act due to Nancy Pelosi’s official duties as a member of Congress, as per the charges against him. Rather, the defense claimed that DePape acted as part of a larger plot driven by online conspiracy theories to take down a group of what he perceived as liberal elites threatening American freedom.

During the trial, it was revealed that DePape, who resided under a tree in a Berkeley, California, park, became obsessed with right-wing conspiracy theories such as Pizzagate and QAnon, and adopted the dehumanizing language about Nancy Pelosi used by conservative pundits and politicians in previous years. In the wake of the attack, Republican commentators and elected officials spread a number of conspiracy theories about the incident, with some mocking the assault at campaign rallies.

The attack transpired in the early hours of October 28, 2022, when DePape broke into the Pelosi residence, demanding to see Nancy Pelosi, who was in Washington at the time. Paul Pelosi called 911, attempting to convey that he was in danger without escalating the situation. When the police arrived, DePape lashed out at Paul Pelosi with the hammer, leading to DePape’s arrest.

DePape’s defense argued that his online radicalization was sparked by an online campaign known as Gamergate that took root as an anti-female critique of the video game industry. DePape eventually supported Donald Trump and embraced conspiracy theories about liberal elites. His lawyers contended that he targeted Nancy Pelosi because of her leadership within the Democratic party and her media appearances where she pushed “lies” about Trump.

Furthermore, in his testimony, DePape claimed that he never intended to hurt Paul Pelosi, and that they had developed a “rapport” after the break-in and while DePape was in his bedroom with a hammer.

DePape’s state court trial for numerous felonies, including attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon, is set for November 29.

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