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Paul Pelosi's Attacker Apologizes at Resentencing, but Prison Term Is Unchanged

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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)

The man who invaded the Pelosis’ San Francisco home in an extremism-fueled attempt to kidnap the then-speaker of the House in late 2022 apologized to Paul Pelosi at a federal court hearing on Tuesday to reconsider his sentence after a court error had thrown his prison term into question.

However, David DePape’s approximately 90-second statement stopped short of showing remorse for his broader plan to target and capture a diverse list of public figures and political leaders.

“I should have left the house when I learned Nancy Pelosi wasn’t there,” DePape said.

A day after DePape was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison earlier this month, the judge presiding over the case ordered a redo, acknowledging that the court had failed to ask him if he would like to make a statement first. U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley issued an unchanged sentence after DePape spoke Tuesday, totaling 30 years in federal prison.

DePape had taken public transportation overnight from the East Bay to the Pelosis’ home in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood, arriving in the early hours of Oct. 28, 2022. He broke into the home by repeatedly hitting a sliding glass door until it shattered, according to security camera video played during DePape’s federal trial that ended with a guilty verdict in November.


He awoke Paul Pelosi asking the now-infamous phrase, “Where’s Nancy?”

Paul Pelosi managed to call 911 after DePape decided to wait with him for his wife to return home. When two officers confronted both men in the front doorway to the home, DePape suddenly turned and struck Paul Pelosi multiple times in the head with a hammer as the officers rushed in and eventually restrained him.

DePape’s defense argued before sentencing that undiagnosed mental illness and a difficult relationship with the mother of his children had left the 44-year-old vulnerable to conspiracy theories that he consumed with increasing frequency in online videos.

By the time he launched his plan to kidnap then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, DePape was obsessed with exposing what he believed was a cabal of politicians promoting child abuse and corruption. Among his other targets: actor Tom Hanks, Rep. Adam Schiff, former Vice President Mike Pence and the president’s son Hunter Biden.

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Corley apologized to DePape at the beginning of his “reopened” sentencing hearing on Tuesday for neglecting to ask him to make a statement when she initially sentenced him on May 17.

“I’m truly sorry for my mistake,” Corley said from the bench. But she denied a defense motion to assign DePape’s sentencing to another judge.

After DePape’s statement, the judge reiterated the seriousness of his crimes.

“You can’t break into the speaker of the House’s home,” Corley said. “It’s hard to overstate the seriousness of that and the damage it has caused.”

The sentencing do-over in federal court has affected scheduling for the beginning of a second trial for DePape on state-level charges, including attempted murder and aggravated kidnapping, which carries a potential life sentence without the possibility of parole. Opening statements in that case were initially set to begin by Tuesday.

Instead, a San Francisco Superior Court judge heard this morning from DePape’s local public defenders, who argue that California-specific protections against double jeopardy require several charges be dismissed following his federal conviction. The judge declined to rule on the motion, saying he’ll wait for local prosecutors to present their case.

Alex Hall of KQED News contributed to this report.

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