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Nancy Pelosi asks for "very long" sentence for David DePape, who attacked husband Paul Pelosi with hammer

Man found guilty in attack on Pelosi's husband
Man found guilty in violent attack on Nancy Pelosi's husband 00:24

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked the court for a "very long" sentence for the man who attacked her husband in their home over a year ago, and Paul Pelosi says he's still suffering dizziness, headaches, balance problems, nerve pain and walking challenges after being struck by David DePape with a hammer.

Paul Pelosi revealed his ongoing health problems in a letter to a federal judge Friday before the sentencing of DePape, who was convicted last November of attacking Paul Pelosi with a hammer in October 2022. The judge sentenced DePape to 30 years.

"I walk slowly and have difficulty with my balance. Nearly every day I get headaches that become migraines unless quickly addressed," Paul Pelosi wrote. "I need to sleep during the day and cannot tolerate bright lights or loud noises for extended periods of time." 

"For months, sleeping alone in my home was very difficult because I kept remembering the defendant breaking into my house," Paul Pelosi said, continuing, "The defendant severely damaged the nerves in my left hand. My forehand was 'de-gloved' exposing raw nerves and blood vessels. Surgeries and treatments mostly healed the skin, but underneath I still feel pinched nerves in my left hand. This makes basic tasks like using buttons, cutlery and simple tools more difficult."

The former House speaker, in her own letter to the court, requested a "very long" sentence for DePape. She said the attack "[f]illed me with great fear and deep pain."

"A violent man broke into our home, threatened to kidnap me and – in his own words – made my husband Paul 'take the punishment' in my absence with a near-fatal attack with a hammer," the longtime California congresswoman wrote.

She also said that she and her husband have never talked about the attack.

"Paul and I have not discussed the events of that horrible night," Nancy Pelosi wrote. "Paul doesn't want to undergo revisiting it, and the doctors' advice is that discussing the vicious assault would only renew his trauma."  

In a separate letter to the court, her chief of staff, Terri McCullough, referenced anxiety in the speaker's office that arose in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol assault, when rioters chanted, "Where's Nancy?" 

"We could not imagine anything worse could happen in our world," McCullough wrote. "Yet I did, because of this defendant's actions. 'Where's Nancy?' he asked. After the brutal attack of Mr. Pelosi in October 2022, we knew the Speaker and her family were not safe in their own homes."

The Justice Department was seeking a prison term of 40 years for DePape. DePape, 44, was tried late last year for attempted kidnapping of a federal official and assault on the immediate family member of a federal official. Jurors convicted him on both counts.

DePape's early morning break-in at the Pelosi home resulted in federal as well as state charges.  A second trial in state court will start in the coming weeks.

During tearful testimony in his federal trial, DePape admitted that he broke into the Pelosis' San Francisco home intending to hold the speaker hostage and "break her kneecaps" if she lied to him. He also acknowledged bludgeoning Paul Pelosi with a hammer after police showed up, saying his plan to end what he viewed as government corruption was unraveling.

Paul Pelosi and suspect David DePape seen in police bodycam video
David DePape (L) and Paul Pelosi are seen struggling over a hammer at Pelosi's residence in San Francisco, Oct. 28, 2022. San Francisco Superior Court

The attack on Paul Pelosi, who was 82 at the time, was captured on police body camera video days before the midterm elections and sent shockwaves through the political world.

Defense attorneys argued DePape was motivated by his political beliefs, not by a desire to interfere with the speaker's official duties as a member of Congress, which would make the charges against him invalid.

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