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State trial underway for man sentenced to 30 years in attack against Nancy Pelosi's husband

In this image taken from United States Capitol Police surveillance video, David DePape stands outside the home of former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul Pelosi in San Francisco, Oct. 28, 2022. Video released publicly Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, shows the husband of former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fighting for control of a hammer with his assailant during a brutal attack in the couple's San Francisco home last year. (United States Capitol Police via AP) In this image taken from United States Capitol Police surveillance video, David DePape stands outside the home of former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her husband Paul Pelosi in San Francisco, Oct. 28, 2022. Video released publicly Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, shows the husband of former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi fighting for control of a hammer with his assailant during a brutal attack in the couple's San Francisco home last year. (United States Capitol Police via AP)
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SAN FRANCISCO -

The man sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for bludgeoning Nancy Pelosi's husband with a hammer inside their San Francisco home returned to a courtroom Wednesday to face state charges, including attempted murder.

A federal jury found David DePape, 44, guilty of attempting to hold Pelosi hostage and assaulting her husband, Paul Pelosi, after he broke into their home on Oct. 28, 2022, looking for Nancy Pelosi, who was then U.S. House Speaker. A federal judge sentenced him to 30 years in prison.

Assistant San Francisco District Attorney Sean Connolly began his opening statements by discussing the sanctity of one's home and the vulnerability of the elderly, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. He also showed the jury a photograph of Paul Pelosi in a pool of blood after the assault. Paul Pelosi was 82 at the time of the attack.

"When we are asleep, we are most vulnerable, and our elderly are our most vulnerable citizens," he said. "Think about that: a home, in the middle of the night, a man alone, sleeping in his bed."

Paul Pelosi went from sleeping peacefully to living "a nightmare," Connolly said.

Opening statements began Wednesday, a day after DePape's federal sentencing was reopened to allow him to speak.

In the state case, the San Francisco District Attorney charged DePape with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, residential burglary, false imprisonment, threatening the life or serious bodily harm to a public official, and threatening the staff or family of a public official. DePape pleaded not guilty.

DePape's defence attorney, San Francisco Deputy Public Defender Adam Lipson, told the jury that in the months leading up to the attack DePape had been isolating himself and falling deeper into conspiracy theories, the newspaper reported.

Lipson said that DePape lived in a garage without access to a bathroom in Richmond, a city 20 miles (32 kilometres) northeast of San Francisco, and spent almost every waking hour playing video games and surfing the internet. He said DePape believed he could speak to fairies and read people's minds.

DePape was diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder, a mental health condition characterized by a lack of interest in social relationships, Lipson said.

Addressing the jury, Lipson called the attack a "terrible thing" that DePape did. But, he said, his client never intended to kill Paul Pelosi; he simply "lashed out irrationally" when his misguided plan was thwarted.

District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley on May 17 sentenced DePape to 20 years for attempting to kidnap Nancy Pelosi and 30 years for the assault on Paul Pelosi, the maximum for both counts. The sentences would run simultaneously. Corley did not allow DePape to address the court before being sentenced and corrected her error by reopening that portion of the trial on Tuesday.

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

On Tuesday, Corley 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 admitted during his federal trial testimony that he planned to hold Nancy Pelosi hostage, interrogate her and "break her kneecaps" if she did not admit to the lies he said she told about "Russiagate," a reference to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The attack on Paul Pelosi was captured on police body camera video just days before the 2022 midterm elections and sent shockwaves through 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.

DePape said he planned to wear an inflatable unicorn costume and record his interrogation of Nancy Pelosi to upload it online. Prosecutors say he had rope and zip ties with him. Detectives also found body cameras, a computer and a tablet.

DePape also testified under cross-examination that he told a San Francisco police detective that he had hoped to see an injured Pelosi wheeled onto the floor of the House so everyone would know there were consequences for being "the most evil people on the planet."

Angela Chuang, one of his attorneys, said during closing arguments that DePape was estranged from his family and was caught up in conspiracy theories.

Chuang said during his sentencing that DePape was first exposed to extreme beliefs by Gypsy Taub, his ex-girlfriend and mother of his children. Taub and their two children attended every hearing in the federal case.

Taub, a well-known pro-nudity activist in the San Francisco Bay Area, met DePape in Hawaii when he was 20 years old and she was in her 30s and pregnant, DePape's twin sister, Joanne Robinson, said in a letter to the judge seeking leniency.

Robinson wrote that Taub isolated DePape from his family and inflicted "extreme psychological damage" on her brother.

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