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Prosecutors are recommending a 40-year sentence for David DePape, who was found guilty of attacking Paul Pelosi, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, with a hammer inside their San Francisco home in October 2022. DePape was convicted of assault on a federal official’s immediate family member and attempted kidnapping of a federal official. The Department of Justice argued that DePape’s actions constitute a federal crime of terrorism, as they were meant to influence the government through intimidation or coercion.

DePape’s attorney acknowledged that he attacked Paul Pelosi but argued that his motivation did not match the charges against him. During the trial, she claimed that DePape did not act based on Nancy Pelosi’s duties as a member of Congress; instead, he struck Pelosi in a moment of despair when his larger plan was thwarted. DePape, who described himself as politically “right of center,” told the jury that he was targeting Nancy Pelosi and was surprised to find her husband at home instead.

Paul Pelosi testified during the trial, recounting how he encountered DePape in his home with a hammer. Following a struggle, Pelosi was violently struck in the head and woke up in a pool of blood. He underwent surgery for a skull fracture and other injuries, describing his difficult recovery to the jurors. The Department of Justice argued that DePape’s crimes were assaults on democracy and fundamental values, serving as a deterrent to others considering ideologically motivated violence.

The federal sentencing for DePape is set for May 17, and he still faces state charges in California, including attempted murder, burglary, and assault, to which he has pleaded not guilty. The DOJ’s memo emphasized the importance of addressing extremism leading to attacks on public officials and highlighted the need to deter others harboring violent plans. The case serves as a moment to signal the consequences of ideologically motivated violence targeting elected representatives, as expressed by the Justice Department.

In the aftermath of the attack, Paul Pelosi has made efforts to move forward and not revisit the traumatic experience. The DOJ’s recommendation for a 40-year sentence reflects the severity of DePape’s crimes and their impact on the democratic process. As DePape awaits sentencing, the case stands as a stark reminder of the potential consequences of political extremism and violence on public figures and their families. The prosecution’s stance underscores the need to take a strong stance against such actions to safeguard the integrity of the government.

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