BREAKING NEWS

Suspect in hammer attack on Paul Pelosi pleads not guilty to state charges

The man charged with breaking into US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco home and clubbing her husband in the head with a hammer pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and other charges and was ordered to remain jailed without bond.

Making his first court appearance since Friday's attack, David Wayne DePape, 42, was formally presented with state charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, elder abuse, false imprisonment and threatening a public official. 

DePape, who was represented in court by a public defender, pleaded not guilty to all charges, which prosecutors have said could carry a maximum sentence of 13 years to life in prison.

San Francisco Superior Court Diane Northway ordered DePape to remain in custody without bail for pretrial proceedings, at least until a formal detention hearing is held. But the public defender, Adam Lipson, told reporters afterward that his client remains under a federal detention hold as well.

DePape appeared in court with his right arm in a sling. His lawyer said he had suffered a dislocated shoulder when he was arrested.

DePape is accused in court documents of forcing his way into Pelosi's home before dawn on Friday with plans to take the speaker of the US House of Representatives hostage, and to break her kneecaps unless she told him the "truth" under his questioning.

With the speaker away in Washington at the time, the intruder instead confronted her husband, Paul Pelosi, who managed to slip into a bathroom to call emergency-911 by cellphone for help.

Police arrived at the home minutes later, in time to witness the two men struggling with a hammer before the intruder grabbed the tool away and struck Pelosi over the head, according to an account of the incident contained in an FBI affidavit filed in federal court on Monday.

Officers then subdued DePape and took him into custody, authorities said. Officers later recovered zip ties in the home, as well as a roll of tape, rope, a second hammer, a pair of gloves and a journal in DePape's backpack, the affidavit said. The intruder used the same hammer he is accused of striking Paul Pelosi to break in through a glass door to the residence.

The 82-year-old real estate and venture capital executive has since undergone surgery for skull fractures and injuries to his hands and right arm and remained hospitalized on Tuesday.

Nancy Pelosi issued a statement late on Monday saying her husband was continuing to make "steady progress on what will be a long recovery process."

Federal prosecutors have charged DePape separately with assault and attempted kidnapping. He was yet to be scheduled for a court appearance in the federal case.

The attack has stoked fears about politically motivated violence one week before midterm elections that will decide control of Congress during one of the most vitriolic and polarized campaign seasons in decades.

On Tuesday, US Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said in a statement: "We believe today’s political climate calls for more resources to provide additional layers of physical security for Members of Congress."

The state charges are punishable by a prison sentence of 13 years to life. The federal charges carry a combined maximum sentence of 50 years, the Justice Department said in a statement announcing the charges.

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