Pelosi attack suspect pleads not guilty to federal charges

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A man accused in last month’s attack on U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband pleaded not guilty Tuesday to federal charges of attempting to kidnap a federal official and assaulting a federal official’s family member.

David DePape, appearing in orange clothes without handcuffs, was assigned a public defender who entered the plea on his behalf during a brief court appearance.

DePape, 42, of Richmond, a San Francisco suburb, was indicted last week on the federal charges arising from an Oct. 28 break-in at the Pelosis’ San Francisco home days before the midterm elections. The attack on Paul Pelosi happened as threats against lawmakers and election officials have been at all-time highs and authorities have issued warnings about rising extremism in the U.S.

DePape, who was drawn to conspiracy theories, also has separately pleaded not guilty to state charges of attempted murder, burglary and elder abuse.

The federal charges include assault upon an immediate family member of a U.S. official with the intent to retaliate against the official on account of the performance of official duties. That carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison.

A second charge alleges DePape attempted to kidnap a U.S. official on account of the performance of official duties. That could bring a maximum 20 years in prison. The indictment alleges DePape intended to kidnap Nancy Pelosi.

Officers responding to Paul Pelosi’s 911 call found Paul Pelosi and DePape fighting over a hammer, the indictment alleges. An officer ordered DePape to drop the hammer but he responded, “ummm nope,” before forcefully swinging it at Paul Pelosi, it says.

The sequence lasted about 15 seconds, it says, but left Pelosi and DePape lying on the floor with blood swelling around Paul Pelosi’s head. He was treated at a hospital for a fractured skull.

Paul Pelosi told a 911 dispatcher that he was sleeping when a man he had never seen before entered his bedroom looking for Nancy Pelosi, who was in Washington, D.C. Officers later found a broken glass door to the back porch. They recovered zip ties, a roll of tape, white rope, a second hammer, and a pair of rubber and cloth gloves.

Christine Pelosi, one of the Pelosis’ children, sat in the courtroom during DePape’s appearance.

DePape is being held without bail in state custody.

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