Jurors in Hunter Biden’s gun trial begin deliberations

10 June 2024, 22:14

Hunter Biden arriving at court
Hunter Biden. Picture: PA

Several family members – including first lady Jill Biden – sat in the first row of the courtroom.

Jurors in Hunter Biden’s gun trial have begun deliberating on whether the US president’s son is guilty of federal firearms charges over a revolver he bought when prosecutors say he was addicted to crack cocaine.

Hunter Biden is charged with three felonies stemming from the purchase of the gun in 2018. Prosecutors say he lied on a federal form by saying he was not illegally using or addicted to drugs.

Since the trial began last week in Delaware’s federal court, jurors have heard emotional testimony from Hunter Biden’s former romantic partners, read personal text messages and seen photos of him with drug paraphernalia or partially clothed.

He has publicly detailed his struggle with a crack cocaine addiction before getting sober more than five years ago. But the defence sought to show that that he did not consider himself an “addict” when he filled out the form.

President Joe Biden speaking in front of an American flag
President Joe Biden said that he would accept the jury’s verdict (AP)

It is the first of two trials Hunter Biden faces in the midst of his Democratic father’s re-election campaign. The younger Biden is also charged with failing to pay at least 1.4 million dollars in taxes in a case scheduled to go to trial in September.

In closing arguments on Monday, the prosecutor told jurors to focus on the “overwhelming” evidence against Hunter Biden and pay no mind to members of the president’s family sitting in the courtroom, including first lady Jill Biden.

“All of this is not evidence,” Leo Wise said, extending his hand and directing the jury to look at the gallery. “People sitting in the gallery are not evidence.”

Defence lawyer Abbe Lowell countered that prosecutors have failed to prove their case. He told jurors the fact that his client has a famous last name does not change the fact that he is presumed innocent – like any other defendant – until proven guilty.

“With my last breath in this case, I ask for the only verdict that will hold the prosecutors to what the law requires of them” — a verdict of not guilty, Mr Lowell said.

First lady Jill Biden arriving at court
First lady Jill Biden arriving at court (Matt Slocum)

Hunter Biden’s lawyers have suggested he was trying to turn his life around at the time of the gun purchase, having completed a detoxification and rehabilitation programme at the end of August 2018.

Mr Lowell said there is no witness to Hunter Biden’s drug use in the 11 days he had the gun. And he suggested his client was lying about where he was in text messages to his brother Beau’s widow. The prosecution suggests those texts show drug use and drug deals in the days following the gun purchase.

“At any given time, he would lie to her about where he was,” Mr Lowell said.

Closing arguments came shortly after the defence rested its case without calling Hunter Biden to the witness stand. He smiled as he chatted with members of his defence team and flashed a thumbs-up to one of his supporters in the gallery after the final witness – an FBI agent called by prosecutors in their rebuttal case.

The first lady, the president’s brother James and other family members sat in the first row of the courtroom in Wilmington, Delaware. At one point, Hunter Biden leaned over a railing to whisper in his mother’s ear. She has sat through most of the trial, missing only one day last week to attend D-Day anniversary events with the president in France.

Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty to three felony charges stemming from the October 2018 purchase of a gun he had for about 11 days. He has accused the Justice Department of bending to political pressure from former president Donald Trump and other Republicans to bring the gun case and separate tax charges after a deal with prosecutors fell apart last year.

Hunter Biden arriving at court
Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty (Matt Slocum/AP)

The case has put a spotlight on a turbulent time in Hunter Biden’s life after the death of his brother in 2015.

Joe Biden said last week that he would accept the jury’s verdict and has ruled out a pardon for his son.

Last summer, it looked as if Hunter Biden would avoid prosecution in the gun case altogether, but a deal with prosecutors imploded after US District Judge Maryellen Noreika, who was nominated to the bench by Mr Trump, raised concerns about it.

Hunter Biden was subsequently indicted on three felony gun charges. He also faces a trial scheduled for September on felony charges alleging he failed to pay at least 1.4 million dollars in taxes over four years.

If convicted in the gun case, he faces up to 25 years in prison, though first-time offenders do not get anywhere near the maximum, and it is unclear whether the judge would give him time behind bars.

Jurors deliberated for less than an hour before leaving the courthouse for the day. Deliberations will resume on Tuesday morning.

By Press Association

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