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David DePape Sentenced to 30 Years in Federal Prison for Attack on Nancy Pelosi's Husband

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A watercolor drawing shows a white man on the witness stand in a courtroom with his head in his hands. A female judge in a black robe looks on, and another woman stands facing the man.
David DePape (center) breaks down crying on the witness stand in a San Francisco courtroom while being questioned by Assistant Federal Public Defender Angela Chuang (right), as District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley observes, on Nov. 14, 2023, on the third day of his federal trial. DePape is accused of assaulting Paul Pelosi with a hammer last year and attempting to kidnap his wife, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. (Vicki Behringer for KQED)

Updated 2:27 p.m. Friday

The man who was convicted of the attempted kidnapping of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and of violently assaulting her husband, Paul Pelosi, in the couple’s San Francisco home was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison on Friday.

A jury found David DePape, 44, guilty in November of one count of attempted kidnapping of a federal officer and one count of assault on the immediate family member of a federal official. The 20- and 30-year sentences he received for each crime were ordered to be served simultaneously.

“This is so harmful to everyone in this country,” U.S. District Court Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley said just before ordering the 30-year sentence, noting that those considering going into public service must now consider the risk not only to themselves but to their spouse, children and grandchildren. “We will never know everything we have lost because of this crime.”

In letters to the judge, Nancy and Paul Pelosi described the October 2022 attack’s lasting effects on their lives, physical and otherwise, as they asked for the longest possible sentence. Their daughter, Christine Pelosi, read the letters from the witness stand while DePape looked on.


Nancy Pelosi described ongoing security threats and DePape’s resonance with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“Reports of the home invasion with shouts of ‘Where’s Nancy?’ — echoing the January 6th threats — filled me with great fear and deep pain,” she wrote.

DePape awoke Paul Pelosi with the now-infamous phrase in the early hours of Oct. 28, 2022, looking for his wife.

But she wasn’t home.

Paul Pelosi managed to call 911, and officers arrived at the front door of the Pelosi home to find both men with their hands on a hammer. The body camera video shows officers ordering DePape to drop it. He said, “Nope,” and then struck Pelosi repeatedly on the head, also severely injuring Pelosi’s left hand.

The account was part of significant evidence presented to the federal jury of DePape’s plot to kidnap Nancy Pelosi, among others, and his ultimate assault of Paul Pelosi.

In his letter, Paul Pelosi, who was 82 at the time of the attack, described ongoing pain, sensitivity to bright lights, dizzy spells and nerve damage. He wrote that he can still feel “bumps on my head from the hammer blows and a metal plate from skull surgery.”

“We do not answer our landline phone or our front door due to ongoing threats,” Paul Pelosi wrote. “We cannot fully remove the stain on the floor in the front entryway where I bled.”

Nancy Pelosi noted that she and her husband have never talked about what happened during the attack. Without using former President Donald Trump’s name, she appeared to call out times that he has referenced the brutal assault on her husband.

“When the attack is a source of sick humor — especially to people in high places — it adds to the pain, the fear and the threat to those who might consider public office,” she wrote.

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Prosecutors had argued that DePape should be sentenced to 40 years in prison because of his violent plot to kidnap the then-speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“This was an act of domestic terrorism,” a federal prosecutor argued during the sentencing hearing on Friday.

She referenced a January 2023 call DePape made from a jail cell to a KTVU reporter. “He claimed to be a patriot. He wishes he’d gotten more of them. This is no patriot. This is a domestic terrorist, and it is a lone wolf domestic terrorist.”

Judge Corley also referenced DePape’s statement during the call that he was sorry he didn’t “get more of them.”

“It sounds like he’s taunting his victims,” Corley said from the bench. “He’s taunting America.”

The judge said she believes DePape continues to pose a danger to the public. Despite several chances to change course that night in the Pelosi home, he continued with “completely gratuitous” violence, Corley said.

Defense attorney Angela Chuang argued that a 14-year sentence was more appropriate.

“DePape was at a very low point in his life” in the months leading up to the attack, she said in court on Friday. “His living situation was bad. He didn’t have bathroom access.”

She added that he was spending “every waking hour listening to conspiracy theories promoted by people in places of power, who command respect” as his mental health deteriorated.

DePape’s federal public defenders filed a notice of appeal Friday afternoon, saying they intend to challenge both the judgment and sentence he received.

DePape received over a year and a half of credit for his time in custody awaiting trial and sentencing. He faces potential deportation to Canada after his prison sentence, according to statements by the judge and attorneys in court on Friday.

DePape will go to trial in state court in the coming weeks. He is facing multiple state charges, including attempted murder, residential burglary, seriously injuring an elder adult, assault with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment and threatening a public official’s family member. Jury selection is expected to begin Wednesday.

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