Jury deliberations start in Hunter Biden’s gun trial

The 12 jurors deliberated for about an hour after closing arguments. They will resume at 9am ET (13:00 GMT) on Tuesday.

Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, walks outside the federal court on the day of his trial on criminal gun charges
Hunter Biden, son of US President Joe Biden, walks outside the federal court on the day of his trial on criminal gun charges, in Wilmington, DC [File: Hannah Beier/Reuters]

The jury has begun deliberations in the case of Hunter Biden, the son of United States President Joe Biden, accused of lying about his use of illegal drugs when he bought a handgun in 2018.

The 12 jurors deliberated for about an hour after hearing closing arguments on Monday. They will resume at 9am local time (13:00 GMT) on Tuesday, a court official said.

“We ask, you find the law applies equally to this defendant as it would to anyone else,” government prosecutor Derek Hines told the jury as the first criminal trial of a child of a sitting president reached its final phase.

“When he chose to lie and buy a gun, he violated the law. We ask, you return the only verdict supported by the evidence – guilty,” Hines said.

Hunter Biden, 54, has pleaded not guilty to charges that include lying about his addiction when he filled out a government screening document for a Colt Cobra revolver and illegally possessing the weapon for 11 days.

Defence lawyer Abbe Lowell compared the government’s case with the work of a magician who focuses attention on drug use from months or years before the gun purchase to create the illusion Hunter Biden was a user of crack cocaine when he bought the weapon.

“They blurred all those years before he walked into StarQuest Shooters and all those years after,” Lowell told jurors, referring to the gun shop where he made the purchase.

US District Judge Maryellen Noreika instructed jurors to be impartial. “You have to decide the case based on the evidence,” she told them.

‘It was ugly and it was overwhelming’

Over four days of testimony last week, prosecutors offered an intimate view of the younger Biden’s years of struggle with alcohol and crack cocaine abuse, which prosecutors say legally precluded him from buying a gun.

In the prosecution’s closing arguments, a government lawyer said common sense understanding of the grim testimony of Hunter Biden’s constant drug use filled in any gaps in evidence about his behaviour around the time of the gun purchase.

“It was personal and it was ugly and it was overwhelming,” federal prosecutor Leo Wise told the jury, referring to the testimony of Hunter Biden’s drug use. “But it was also necessary.”

The trial in US District Court in Wilmington, Delaware, follows another historic first – the May 30 criminal conviction of Donald Trump, the first US president to be found guilty of a serious crime. Trump is the Republican challenger to Joe Biden, a Democrat, in the November 5 presidential election.

Congressional Democrats cite the Hunter Biden prosecution as evidence that Joe Biden is not using the justice system for political or personal ends.

Wise said it did not matter if well-known people appeared in court or how they reacted to the evidence, a possible reference to First Lady Jill Biden’s attendance. “None of that matters. What matters came from the witness stand,” he said.

If convicted, Hunter Biden could face up to 25 years in prison, although first-time offenders do not get anywhere near the maximum, and it is unclear whether the judge would give him time behind bars.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies