Judge keeps punishment of 30 years at resentencing for man who attacked Paul Pelosi

The man convicted of attempting to hold former Speaker Nancy Pelosi hostage and attacking her husband with a hammer apologized for his crime at an unusual resentencing
FILE – David DePape is seen, Dec. 13, 2013, in Berkeley, Calif. DePape, the man convicted of attempting to hold former Speaker Nancy Pelosi hostage and attacking her husband with a hammer two years ago, apologized in federal court Tuesday, May 28, 2024, but still received 30 years in prison at an unusual resentencing hearing that resulted from judicial error. (Michael Short/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, File)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

FILE – David DePape is seen, Dec. 13, 2013, in Berkeley, Calif. DePape, the man convicted of attempting to hold former Speaker Nancy Pelosi hostage and attacking her husband with a hammer two years ago, apologized in federal court Tuesday, May 28, 2024, but still received 30 years in prison at an unusual resentencing hearing that resulted from judicial error. (Michael Short/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The man convicted of attempting to hold former Speaker Nancy Pelosi hostage and attacking her husband with a hammer two years ago apologized in federal court Tuesday, but still received 30 years in prison at an unusual resentencing hearing that resulted from judicial error.

District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley on May 17 sentenced David DePape to 20 years for attempting to kidnap Nancy Pelosi and 30 years for the October 2022 assault on Paul Pelosi, the maximum for both counts. The sentences would run simultaneously.

But she had failed to allow the defendant to address the court at that sentencing. Corley scheduled Tuesday's hearing for the limited purpose of allowing DePape to speak for the purpose of mitigating his sentence.

On Tuesday, she apologized to DePape, 44, and to attorneys for her error and asked if he wished to address the court.

DePape, wearing an orange shirt and orange pants with his hair in a short ponytail, said yes and proceeded to speak quickly off of a piece of paper.

“I’m sorry for what I did,” he said, adding that he felt horrible and never meant to hurt Pelosi and that he should have left the house when he realized the former speaker was not there.

DePape said that looking back on that time in his life, he was not doing well. Since then, he said, he has reconnected with his mother and other family members, which is helping him to move forward. He became emotional at the end, prompting his lawyers to comfort him and pat his back.

Corley said the sentence needed to reflect the seriousness of the crime and act as a deterrence to others who may choose to break into the homes of elected officials and hold their spouses hostage and beat them.

“The message has to be out there that it’s absolutely unacceptable to our democracy,” she said.

DePape will serve 30 years with credit served for the 19 months he has already served, she said. His federal sentence should run concurrently with any punishment given by the state in its trial of DePape. She said she expects him deported back to Canada after he completes his punishment.

Neither prosecutors nor DePape’s defense attorneys noted Corley’s oversight during the May 17 hearing. But hours after Corley handed down the sentence, prosecutors filed a motion noting that the court failed to offer DePape an opportunity “to speak or present any information to mitigate the sentence” as required by federal rule.

They asked the court to reopen the sentencing hearing to allow him that option.

DePape’s defense attorneys, however, said in a filing that they opposed bringing their client back to court because doing so would interfere with his state trial. DePape was charged in state court with attempted murder, elder abuse, residential burglary and other felonies. Opening statements in that trial are scheduled to start Wednesday.

“Given Mr. DePape's neurodiversity and mental-health issues ... preparing him for any resentencing hearing requires significant time, which necessarily takes away from time to prepare for his state trial,” they wrote.

DePape's defense attorneys had asked the judge to sentence him to 14 years, pointing out that he was going through a difficult period at the time of the attack, had undiagnosed mental health issues and had no prior criminal history.

A jury last year found DePape guilty in November of attempted kidnapping of a federal official and assault on an immediate family member of a federal official. Prosecutors had asked for a 40-year prison term.

The attack on Paul Pelosi, who was 82 at the time, was captured on police body camera video just days before the 2022 midterm elections and stunned the political world. He suffered two head wounds, including a skull fracture that was mended with plates and screws he will have for the rest of his life. His right arm and hand were also injured.

Ahead of sentencing, one of DePape's attorneys, Angela Chuang, told the judge to consider the prison terms being given to those who participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

“The five most serious sentences for people who were convicted of seditious conspiracy, of literally conspiring to overthrow the government, range from 15 to 22 years,” Chuang said.

Corley said the Jan. 6 analogy didn’t adequately reflect the seriousness of breaking into an elected official’s private home. The home attack may have a chilling effect on people seeking office in the future, she said.

DePape admitted during trial that he broke into the Pelosis' home on Oct. 28, 2022, intending to hold the speaker hostage and get her to admit to corruption. "If she lied, I would break her kneecaps," he said. Nancy Pelosi was not home at the time.

DePape also admitted to bludgeoning Paul Pelosi with a hammer when police showed up, saying his plan to end what he viewed as government corruption was unraveling.