SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – The man accused of attacking United States (US) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband was charged yesterday with attempted murder and attempted kidnapping of a public official, with the assault now described by a lead prosecutor as politically motivated.
Suspect David DePape of California was arrested early last Friday morning after he allegedly broke into Pelosi’s San Francisco mansion, intending to tie up the powerful politician and break her kneecaps with a hammer if she did not confess to Democratic “lies”, the US Justice Department said in a court filing.
DePape had tape, rope, zip ties and other materials with him, the Justice Department said, but he found only Pelosi’s husband Paul, whom he attacked, hitting him in the head with a hammer.
Federal authorities yesterday charged DePape, 42, with attempting to kidnap a US official and assaulting her family member over her actions in her job.
Hours later, San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins announced a slew of new state charges that she said include “attempted murder, residential burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, elder abuse, false imprisonment of an elder as well as threats to a public official and their family”.
If convicted on the state charges, DePape would face 13 years to life in prison, according to Jenkins.
She said the state and federal prosecutions will move forward in parallel, and that her office will seek to have DePape detained without bail when he is arraigned.
In a court affidavit, the FBI said DePape told them after his arrest that he viewed Nancy Pelosi as responsible for lies told by her Democratic Party.
He intended to hold Pelosi – who is second in line to the US presidency after the vice president – hostage and talk to her, the affidavit said.
“If Nancy were to tell DePape the ‘truth’, he would let her go, and if she ‘lied’, he was going to break ‘her kneecaps’,” the affidavit said.
Nancy Pelosi was not in San Francisco at the time of the attack.
Awakened by the break-in, Paul Pelosi dialled the 911 emergency number and meanwhile conversed with DePape, seeking to keep the situation calm until police arrived.
But when police came on the scene the two struggled over a hammer and DePape smashed Paul Pelosi’s head with it, leaving him unconscious, according to the affidavit.
Police subdued DePape and Pelosi, 82, was sent to a hospital where he underwent emergency surgery for a skull fracture and serious injuries to his right arm and hands.