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SF Judge Tosses 3 State Charges Against Man Who Attacked Nancy Pelosi's Husband

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A watercolor courtroom sketch
David DePape (left) listens as Officer Cagney of the San Francisco Police Department testifies under questioning from Assistant District Attorney Sean Connolly during DePape's state trial in San Francisco Superior Court on May 29. (Vicki Behringer for KQED)

Updated 4:30 p.m. Thursday

The judge presiding over the state trial of David DePape, the man who violently attacked former House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband in 2022, dismissed multiple charges Thursday, dramatically upending the trial schedule and altering the course of a case that was expected to be a routine repeat of DePape’s federal prosecution.

Shortly after 11 a.m., Judge Harry Dorfman granted some of the defense’s double-jeopardy arguments and tossed out charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and elder abuse on the grounds that DePape has already been convicted for those acts in federal court.

“This is all one event,” Dorfman said at a San Francisco hearing Thursday. “A sober look at the evidence is – same place, same time, same act.”

The trial is now on hold for at least a week while attorneys await a response from the California Court of Appeal on each party’s request to challenge the ruling.


DePape’s defense attorneys were expected to begin presenting their case Friday after the prosecution rested Tuesday. But as soon as Dorfman announced his ruling Thursday, assistant district attorney Sean Connolly requested a stay of the proceedings while attorneys requested relief from the higher court.

DePape’s attorneys now say they no longer plan to call at least one witness, Dr. Laeeq Evered, a mental health expert. Attorneys have not yet decided whether DePape will testify, assistant public defender Adam Lipson told the judge.

Jurors are expected back in court June 14. Depending on how the state appellate court responds, the trial could be delayed even further.

Dorfman denied the defense’s request to dismiss two additional counts – first degree burglary and aggravated kidnapping – along with the rest of the charges. The defense plans to appeal the judge’s decision on the aggravated kidnapping charge, which carries a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

DePape, 44, still faces other state charges, including false imprisonment of an elder, threatening the family member of a public official and preventing or dissuading a witness by force or threat.

DePape was convicted in federal court in November of attempting to kidnap former House speaker Nancy Pelosi and assaulting her husband during a late-night home-invasion at the couple’s San Francisco home on Oct. 28, 2022.

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Police body cam footage captured the graphic scene of DePape swinging a hammer at Paul Pelosi’s head right in front of San Francisco police officers who were responding to a 911 call Pelosi had managed to make from his bathroom.

DePape was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison at a U.S. District Court hearing on May 28. The next day, his state trial in San Francisco Superior Court began.

DePape’s attorneys moved to dismiss multiple charges last month, arguing that his conviction in federal court precludes prosecution for certain acts in state court because of California protections against double jeopardy.

In their May 21 motion, defense attorneys cite two sections of the California penal code, one that makes a prior conviction a defense to a new charge stemming from the same acts and another that bars prosecution after a conviction in another court system.

Because DePape was already convicted of assault and attempted kidnapping in federal court, California law bars his prosecution in state court for the same acts, they argued.

“DePape’s federal convictions were based on precisely the same conduct that is charged in Counts I to IV: breaking into the Speaker’s home and striking Mr. Pelosi on the head with a hammer,” attorneys wrote. “Because DePape has now been convicted for those acts,” those sections of the law, “bar a retrial.”

They went on: “DePape’s assault on Mr Pelosi with a hammer was an act of violence that shocked our country. So was his forced entry into the Pelosis’ home. The United States has tried, convicted and severely punished DePape for those crimes. California law does not permit a second trial for the same conduct.”

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