Man Obsessed With Online Conspiracy Theories Convicted in Paul Pelosi Attack

A jury on Thursday convicted David DePape of federal crimes for breaking into the San Francisco home of Representative Nancy Pelosi and beating her husband with a hammer in an attack that raised fears of political violence ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

The trial lasted four days, and the jury reached its decision after deliberating for roughly eight hours. Mr. DePape, 43, faces the possibility of decades in prison.

His lawyers did not contest the evidence against him, which included police body camera video of the attack on Paul Pelosi, 83, as well as Mr. DePape’s own admissions to the police and on the witness stand. But they argued to the jury that Mr. DePape’s bludgeoning of Mr. Pelosi while on a mission to kidnap his wife — then the speaker of the House and second in line to the presidency — did not amount to federal crimes.

They said that Mr. DePape did not act on account of Ms. Pelosi’s official duties as a member of Congress — a required element of the charges against him — but rather as part of a larger plot, fueled by online conspiracy theories, to take down a cabal of so-called liberal elites that he saw as a threat to American liberty.

David DePape’s lawyers did not contest the evidence against him, which included police body camera video of the attack.Credit…San Francisco District Attorney, via Reuters

If the case was never, in the words of one of Mr. DePape’s lawyers, “a whodunit,” the trial laid bare the ugliness of American politics in an age of extreme polarization.

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