Hunter Biden gun trial: Defense attempts to undermine prosecutors’ case

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — The criminal trial of President Joe Biden’s son enters home stretch Monday as defense attempts to narrow prosecutors’ case laying bare some of the darkest moments from Hunter Biden’s drug-fueled past.

Hunter Biden’s lawyers could call at least one additional witness when the case moves to federal court in Delaware – the first of two trials he faces in the midst of his father’s re-election campaign. It’s clear whether prosecutors will call rebuttal witnesses before the case goes to closing arguments and then to the jury.

Hunter Biden is charged with three felonies stemming from the October 2018 purchase of a firearm he had possessed for approximately 11 days. Prosecutors say he lied mandatory weapon purchase form saying he was not illegally using drugs or addicted to them.

Biden Hunter has pleaded not guilty and accused the Justice Department of bowing to political pressure from former President Donald Trump and other Republicans to bring the case and separate tax charges after a deal with prosecutors collapsed last year. Biden Hunter said he has been sober since 2019, but his lawyers said he did not consider himself an “addict” when he filled out the form.

The case highlighted a turbulent period in Hunter Biden’s life following the death of his brother Beau in 2015. First Lady Jill Biden watched it unfold from the front row of the courtroom. President Biden was in France much of last week and is heading to Europe again this week for the Group of Seven leaders meeting in Italy.

Biden Hunter’s struggles with substance addiction before getting sober more than five years ago are well-documented. But defense attorneys say there is no evidence that Hunter Biden actually used drugs during the 11 days he possessed the gun. He had completed a rehabilitation program a few weeks earlier.

Jurors heard Hunter Biden’s moving and sordid testimony. former romantic partners and read personal text messages. They saw photos of Hunter Biden holding a crack pipe and partially dressed, as well as a video from his phone showing crack being weighed on a scale.

His ex-wife and two former girlfriends tested for prosecutors his habitual crack use and their failed efforts to help him abstain. One woman, who met Hunter Biden in 2017 at a strip club where she worked, described him smoking crack about every 20 minutes while she stayed with him at a hotel.

Hunter Biden has not taken the witness stand and it is clear whether he will. But jurors heard him describe at length his descent into addiction through audio clips played in court. 2021 memoir “Beautiful Things”. The book, written after he became sober, covers the period he had the gun but does not specifically mention it.

A key witness for prosecutors is Beau’s widow, Hallie, who had a brief rocky relationship with Hunter after her brother died from brain cancer. She found the unloaded gun in Hunter’s truck in October. On December 23, 2018, he panicked and threw it in the trash can at a Wilmington grocery store, where a man inadvertently retrieved it from the trash can.

“I didn’t want him to get hurt, and I didn’t want my kids to find out and get hurt,” Hallie Biden told jurors.

From Hunter’s return to Delaware after a trip to California in 2018 until she threw away his gun, she did not see him use drugs, Hallie told jurors. This period included the day he purchased the gun. But jurors also saw text messages Hunter sent Hallie in October 2018 saying he was waiting for a drug dealer and smoking crack. The first message was sent the day after purchasing the gun. The second was sent the next day.

The defense suggested Hunter Biden was trying to turn his life around at the time of purchasing the gun, after completing a detox and rehabilitation program in late August 2018.

“There is no evidence of contemporaneous drug use and firearm possession,” defense attorney Abbe Lowell wrote in court papers filed Friday. “It was only after the gun was thrown away and the stress that followed…that the government was able to find the same type of evidence of its consumption (e.g., photos, use of jargon drug-related) that led to a drug relapse.”

Hunter Biden’s daughter, Naomi, took the defense Friday, telling jurors that she visited her father while he was in a California rehabilitation center a few weeks before buying the gun. She told jurors he seemed “hopeful” and was improving, and she told him she was proud of him. As she was dismissed from the stand, she stopped to hug her father before leaving the courtroom.

On Friday, the defense did not rule out the possibility of calling an additional witness, but it was clear who it was. Hunter’s lawyers had already announced they planned to call him as a witness. James, Joe Biden’s brother And he was at the courthouse on Friday. Testimony from other family members could open the door to more deeply personal messages to present to the jury.

President Joe Biden said last week he would accept the jury’s verdict and ruled out a pardon for his son. First Lady Jill Biden was in court every day last week in support of Hunter, except Thursday when she was with the president in France to D-Day anniversary events.

It looked like Hunter Biden would have avoided prosecution in the gun case altogether, but a deal reached last summer with prosecutors imploded after U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika, who was appointed to the bench by former Republican President Donald Trump, has raised concerns about the matter. Biden Hunter was later indicted on three felony gun charges. He also faces a Trial scheduled for September on criminal charges alleging he failed to pay at least $1.4 million in taxes over four years.

If convicted in the gun case, Hunter Biden faces up to 25 years in prison, although first-time offenders don’t come close to the maximum, and it’s unclear whether the judge would give him time behind bars.


Richer reported from Washington.

Leave a Comment