Hunter Biden jury returns guilty verdict in federal gun trial

WashingtonHunter Biden has been found guilty of all three felony counts related to his purchase and possession of a gun while he was addicted to crack cocaine.

The verdict marks the first time the child of a sitting president has been convicted of a crime. 

Hunter Biden displayed very little emotion as the verdict from the 12-person Delaware jury was read, and after the verdict was delivered, he hugged his wife and reached over to his attorneys. 

First lady Jill Biden arrived at the courthouse after the verdict was read. The first lady and other members of the Biden family have been attending the trial, often sitting in the front row. While not mentioned by name, prosecutor Leo Wise noted their influence in his closing argument, saying “the people sitting in the gallery are not evidence.” 

The court heard difficult testimony about his struggle with drugs from several of the women in Hunter Biden’s life. The prosecution called his ex-wife Kathleen Buhle, ex-girlfriend Zoe Kestan and Hallie Biden, the widow of his brother Beau Biden, with whom Hunter Biden was romantically involved during the period of time that he owned the firearm. It was Hallie Biden who discovered the gun in his truck. She testified that Hunter Biden was using drugs in October 2018 when he bought the gun, and prosecutors showed texts that said he was “sleeping on car smoking crack.” 

Naomi Biden, called by the defense, testified that her father “seemed great” at the end of October  2018 and she did not spot any drug paraphernalia when she borrowed his truck. But she also said she knew her father “was struggling with addiction,” telling the court that “after my Uncle (Beau Biden) died, things got bad.” She said Hunter Biden never used illegal drugs in front of her.

What is Hunter Biden accused of? 

He was indicted on three felony gun charges in September after a proposed plea deal with federal prosecutors unraveled

He is accused of illegally purchasing and possessing a gun while he was addicted to crack cocaine. Federal law prohibits users of illegal drugs from owning firearms. 

Prosecutors allege the president’s son lied about his drug use on a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives form when he bought a revolver, speed loader and ammunition on Oct. 12, 2018, from StarQuest Shooters and Survival Supply, a gun store in Wilmington. 

Hunter Biden owned the Colt Cobra .38 handgun for 11 days before Hallie Biden  found it in the console of his truck and discarded it in a trash can outside a grocery store. 

Afterward, she testified that she was going to “pretend” that she didn’t do it, but Hunter Biden texted her about the missing gun. 

“Are you insane,” he allegedly texted her on Oct. 23, 2018, according to text messages read aloud during the trial. “Tell me now. This is no game. And you’re being totally irresponsible and unhinged.”

“It’s hard to believe anyone is that stupid,” he allegedly wrote in another message. 

Hallie Biden went back to the trash can to retrieve the gun, but it was gone. An elderly man looking for recyclables found the gun and took it home. Delaware police later recovered the gun from the man. 

Years later, prosecutors charged Hunter Biden with gun crimes as they pursued unrelated tax charges against him.

What is Hunter Biden charged with? 

Two of the three counts are related to paperwork Hunter Biden filled out when he purchased the gun. The form includes questions about a person’s criminal record, whether they are buying the gun for themselves or someone else, their drug use and mental health. He’s charged with making a false statement on the application by saying he was not a drug user and lying to a licensed gun dealer. 

The third count relates to his possession of the gun. Prosecutors say he knowingly possessed the gun for 11 days as he was battling an addiction to illegal drugs, a violation of federal law. 

Hunter Biden’s defense

His attorneys argued that prosecutors must prove that he was using drugs the day he bought the gun. The form uses the word “are,” defense lawyer Abbe Lowell said in opening statements. 

“It does not say have you ever been. It does not say have you ever used,” Lowell said. The defense also argued that Hunter Biden was abusing alcohol, not drugs, during that time. 

All three counts are felonies, and if convicted of all counts, he could face a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and fines of up to $750,000.

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