Jury begins deliberating in landmark Hunter Biden case

Video caption, Hunter Biden on criminal trial: “I think it went well”

  • Author, Bernd Debusmann Jr.
  • Role, in Delaware court, BBC News

Jurors in the Hunter Biden gun case have begun deliberating and must now decide the fate of the US president’s son.

The 54-year-old is accused of lying about his drug use on a federal form when purchasing a gun in 2018, and illegal possession of a firearm while allegedly being a drug user.

For days, prosecutors presented evidence suggesting Mr. Biden was in the throes of addiction when he purchased the gun in Delaware.

His defense team says he was in recovery and therefore was not a drug addict at the time.

Mr. Biden, who did not testify, denies all three related charges.

If convicted, he faces 25 years in prison.

The BBC briefly interviewed Mr. Biden in downtown Wilmington after the jury began its deliberations on Monday.

“I think (today) went well,” Mr. Biden said. “But we will see. We will have to wait for the jury to return.”

In a lengthy closing argument, prosecutor Leo Wise said “no one is above the law” and that the case is “neither more important nor less important because of who the accused is.” “.

“The central issue in this case is whether he was a drug addict and whether he knew he was,” Mr Wise added.

To make the government’s case, Mr. Wise looked to testimony from Mr. Biden’s former partners and his own memoir to try to show that he was an active drug user at the time he purchased tear.

The evidence, Mr. Wise said, was “personal. It was ugly and damning.”

Mr. Biden’s defense team says he was in recovery at the time and was therefore honest when he indicated on documents that he was not a drug user.

His lawyer, Abbe Lowell, repeatedly stressed to jurors that none of the text messages or testimony presented in court referred to “actual drug use” at the time of the purchase, arguing that the theory of accusation was based on “suspicion” and “conjecture”. .

Mr. Lowell accused prosecutors of using evidence of drug use for many years.

As an example, Mr. Lowell pointed out that the testimony of Mr. Biden’s ex-girlfriend, Zoe Kestan, revealed “no blowjob, no scales, no drugs, not even alcohol” at the time in question.

Members of Mr. Biden’s family sat in the row behind him in federal court in Delaware, including First Lady Jill Biden – his mother-in-law and wife of the president – Ashley Biden, his half-sister, as well as James and Valerie Biden, the president’s siblings. .

Several visibly bristled when the prosecution said Mr. Biden had “four years of active addiction,” shaking their heads.

Mr. Biden, for his part, spent long periods watching jurors intently as closing arguments unfolded, occasionally taking notes and conferring with his legal team.

During a break, his wife Melissa Cohen Biden kissed him and patted his shoulders and whispered in his ear.

The start of the debates on Monday focused on a legal technicality. Mr. Biden’s lawyers wanted the 12 jurors to be informed during jury instructions that he had filled out the form “in good faith.” The prosecution disagreed.

The discrepancy relates to whether Mr. Biden “knowingly” lied on the form.

Last week, prosecutors played excerpts from an audiobook of Mr. Biden’s memoir, in which he talks about his four-year addiction to crack cocaine, a period that overlapped with his gun purchase.

The court also heard from Mr Biden’s ex-romantic partners, including Hallie Biden. Hallie – the widow of Mr Biden’s brother – said she found “remains” of crack cocaine in Mr Biden’s car, along with the gun.

However, under cross-examination, Ms. Biden confirmed that she did not see him using drugs at the time of his gun purchase.

Throughout the trial, the defense attempted to sow doubt about the memory of the prosecution witnesses.

Video caption, Drugs, alcohol and a suspicious weapon: the Hunter Biden trial explained