Prosecutors urge 40 years in prison for attacker of Pelosi’s husband

By Thomson Reuters May 10, 2024 | 10:11 PM

By Steve Gorman

(Reuters) – The man who broke into former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home and clubbed her husband with a hammer should serve 40 years in prison for his conviction on federal offenses that amount to a crime of terrorism, prosecutors urged on Friday.

In a sentencing memorandum filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, prosecutors said David Wayne DePape has shown no remorse, deserves no leniency and should receive the statutory maximum penalties for each of the two counts on which he was convicted last year.

“At a time when extremism has led to attacks on public and elected officials, this case presents a moment to speak to others harboring ideologically motivated violent dreams and plans,” the memorandum said.

Sentencing is set for May 17.

In November, a federal court jury found DePape guilty of attempting to kidnap Pelosi, then speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and assaulting her husband, Paul Pelosi, both on account of her official duties as a member of Congress.

Prosecutors recommended that DePape receive the maximum jail term for each count – 20 years for attempted kidnapping and 30 years for assault – with 20 years of the second count consecutive to the first, for a total of 40 years behind bars.

Although he was not convicted of committing terrorism, DePape’s offenses – a week before the 2022 congressional midterm elections – met the federal definition of terrorism as a crime “calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion,” prosecutors argued.

Prosecutors counted that circumstance as a sentencing “enhancement.”

DePape forced his way into Pelosi’s San Francisco home in the early hours of Oct. 28, 2022, confronted her husband and clubbed him over the head with a hammer before police who were called to the scene managed to subdue the intruder.

The House speaker, second in the constitutional line of succession to the presidency, was away in Washington at the time. Paul Pelosi, then 82, was hospitalized for several days with skull fractures and injuries to his hands and right arm.

Evidence at trial showed that DePape, a Canadian citizen who had been in the United States illegally for 14 years at the time of the attack, was driven by far right-wing conspiracy theories, embracing the fictions spread by the extremist QAnon movement.

The sentencing memorandum cited DePape’s own trial testimony, in which he acknowledged his intention was to kidnap Nancy Pelosi, interrogate her and break her kneecaps if she were found to be lying.

The jury also heard the recording of an interview DePape gave to a television station in 2023, saying he was “sorry I didn’t get more of them. … I should have come better prepared.”

In addition to asserting DePape’s lack of remorse, prosecutors said the toughest possible sentence was warranted because of the gravity of the crime and to deter similar acts by others.

DePape still faces separate state charges stemming from the Pelosi break-in and attack, including attempted murder, that carry a potential sentence of 13 years to life in prison. He has pleaded not guilty.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)