Jury Begins Deliberations in Hunter Biden Gun Trial

The prosecution and defense have finished their closing arguments as the jury is set to begin deliberation.
Jury Begins Deliberations in Hunter Biden Gun Trial
Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, and his wife, Melissa Cohen Biden, leave the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building in Wilmington, Del., on June 7, 2024. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
Jacob Burg
6/10/2024
Updated:
6/10/2024
0:00

The jury is set to begin deliberations in Hunter Biden’s federal gun trial on June 10 after the prosecution and defense finished making their closing arguments.

Prosecutors allege that testimony from Mr. Biden’s ex-romantic partners, along with text messages and memoir excerpts, prove that Mr. Biden was “knowingly” an active drug addict in October 2018 when he purchased a firearm.

The defense argued that Mr. Biden did not consider himself an addict when he purchased the gun, therefore he did not “knowingly” lie on the gun application form when he checked “no” when asked if he was a drug addict.

Authorities are accusing Mr. Biden of lying to the federally licensed gun store by illegally claiming on his application that he was not a drug user at the time of purchase and then unlawfully possessing the gun for 11 days. Mr. Biden is facing three felonies and has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Mr. Biden decided to not take the stand on June 10, prompting both sides to prepare closing arguments after the judge finished giving instructions to the jury. Defense lawyer Abbe Lowell asked the judge to instruct the jury to not hold it against his client for choosing to not testify.

Closing Arguments

Prosecutor Leo Wise told the jury that “no one is above the law” and that the evidence came from witness testimony and physical and documentary evidence, such as Mr. Biden’s memoir, in which the defendant detailed his descent into crack cocaine addiction.

“The evidence was personal. It was ugly, and it was overwhelming,” Mr. Wise said. “It was also absolutely necessary.”

The evidence shows that Mr. Biden “knowingly” made a false statement when he bought the gun and “knowingly” possessed it for 11 days before Hallie Biden, Mr. Biden’s sister-in-law, found it and put it in a public garbage can, he alleged.

Mr. Wise also said prosecutors do not have to prove the defendant was using drugs on the day he bought the gun or during the 11 days he owned it. Drug use around the time of the purchase is sufficient.

“You can consider the defendant’s pattern of use,” Mr. Wise said, pointing to Zoe Kestan’s claims that Mr. Biden used drugs less than three weeks before buying the gun and the text messages to Ms. Biden in which he said he was smoking crack days after he bought it. Ms. Kestan is a former girlfriend of Mr. Biden’s.

In one text message the day after the gun purchase, Mr. Biden allegedly told Ms. Biden that he was “waiting for a dealer named Mookie.” The next day, he allegedly sent her a message saying he was smoking crack, and in other messages, he described himself as both “a drunk” and “an addict.”

Prosecutors also pointed to a memoir excerpt in which Mr. Biden describes his four years of drug abuse as an “active addiction.”

“Take the defendant’s word for it. That’s his truth,” Mr. Wise said, referring to a message Mr. Biden allegedly sent Ms. Biden three days after the gun purchase, admitting to smoking crack and saying, “That’s my truth.”

Prosecutors also disputed the defense’s argument that the nearly $400,000 in cash withdrawals in 2018 alone were for rehab payments. Financial records show that those payments were made with a card, not cash. Mr. Wise suggested that the withdrawals were for drugs.

Defense Responds

Mr. Lowell took issue with the word “knowingly” in his closing arguments, suggesting that Mr. Biden’s state of mind during the gun purchase is what matters.

Because the defendant did not consider himself an addict at the time, he did not “knowingly” lie on the form, Mr. Lowell argued. Whatever Mr. Biden wrote in his memoir years later is irrelevant, he claimed.

The defense attorney also took issue with Ms. Kestan’s testimony about his client’s drug use, suggesting that there were “no pipe, no scales, no drugs” nor any alcohol in the photos she took in California while visiting Mr. Biden.

Mr. Lowell also scrutinized the alleged text messages between Mr. Biden and Ms. Biden, suggesting that he could have been lying to put her off.

The lawyer pointed out that prosecutors could not prove how the cocaine residue got onto the leather pouch that Ms. Biden found in Mr. Biden’s truck, which she put the weapon in before placing both in a garbage can on Oct. 23, 2018.

As to testimony from Mr. Biden’s ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle, Mr. Lowell said they were no longer together in 2018 and that the gun application form asked in the present tense whether the applicant “is” a drug user or addict.

Pointing to other items purchased at the gun store—a utility knife, flashlight, and BB gun—Mr. Lowell suggested that his client went there on a whim and did not necessarily have the “intent” to buy a gun and lie on the paperwork.

Mr. Lowell asked for the jurors to find Mr. Biden not guilty.

Prosecuting attorney Derek Hines responded that the hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2018 cash withdrawals are “indicative of the continual, significant drug use that the defendant described in his book.”

“There is overwhelming evidence of the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” Mr. Hines said. “When he chose to lie and buy a gun, he violated the law.”

The trial has reached its final stage as the jury begins deliberations.

Mr. Biden is facing up to 25 years in prison if convicted in the federal gun case, although first-time offenders typically receive less than the maximum sentence. It is not clear whether the judge will give Mr. Biden jail time if he is handed a guilty verdict.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Jacob Burg reports on the state of Florida for The Epoch Times. He covers a variety of topics including crime, politics, science, education, wildlife, family issues, and features. He previously wrote about sports, politics, and breaking news for the Sarasota Herald Tribune.