By Daniel Trotta
(Reuters) – A federal court jury will resume deliberations on Thursday in the trial of a right-wing conspiracy theorist who attacked the husband of former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a hammer.
David Wayne DePape, 43, broke into the Pelosis’ San Francisco home and struck Paul Pelosi over the head with a hammer in the early morning hours of Oct. 28, 2022, while Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, was still speaker and away in Washington.
The San Francisco jury began deliberations on Wednesday, failing to reach a verdict before the end of the day on charges of attempted kidnapping and assault of an immediate family member of a federal official. Jurors were due to take up the case again on Thursday.
The crimes carry potential prison sentences of 20 years and 30 years, respectively, under federal sentencing guidelines.
DePape also faces further charges including attempted murder in California state court that carry a potential sentence of 13 years to life in prison.
Defense attorney Jodi Linker argued during the trial that DePape did not commit a federal crime because he was not driven by Pelosi’s official duties as speaker. Instead, she argued, DePape’s firm belief in wide-ranging but misguided conspiracy theories motivated him to bring down the wealthy and powerful ruling class.
Linker let many of the facts of the case go uncontested as the hammer strike was recorded by police body cameras and DePape admitted to his actions while testifying in his own defense.
Evidence showed DePape was driven by right-wing conspiracy theories, embracing the fictions spread by QAnon, questioning the Holocaust, and feeding off political accusations against Hunter Biden, the president’s son, and George Soros, the billionaire Holocaust survivor.
DePape told the jury he wanted to kidnap Nancy Pelosi, interrogate her, and break her kneecaps if he found her to be lying. But after breaking into the home he instead found her husband, then age 82, asleep in his bed. DePape said the attack was a reaction to his original plan going awry.
“He was never my target and I’m sorry that he got hurt,” DePape said.
Paul Pelosi was knocked unconscious and hospitalized for several days, undergoing surgery for skull fractures.
Testifying for the prosecution, Pelosi said he has tried not to relive the episode, including by avoiding the video clip of him being attacked, but that he did remember waking up on his floor in a “pool of blood.”
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Christopher Cushing)