Watch CBS News

Jury deliberates in Hunter Biden's gun trial

Jury begins deliberation in Hunter Biden gun case
Jury begins deliberation in Hunter Biden gun case 02:33

Jurors are entering their second day of deliberations Tuesday in the gun trial of Hunter Biden, who faces federal charges of owning and possessing a firearm while he was a drug addict. They deliberated for about an hour Monday after the closing arguments before they were released for the day.

Two of the three felony charges Hunter Biden faces are related to accusations that he made false statements on a federal gun form about his drug use by saying he wasn't a user of or addicted to any controlled substance during a period when prosecutors allege he was addicted to crack cocaine. 

Hunter Biden Gun Trial Continues In Delaware
Hunter Biden and his wife Melissa Cohen Biden leave the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building on June 07, 2024, in Wilmington, Delaware. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

He's also been charged with possessing the gun unlawfully for 11 days before Hallie Biden, with whom he was romantically involved, found and discarded it. Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty to the charges. 

The government sought to make the case that Hunter Biden knowingly lied about using drugs when he bought the gun. Prosecutor Derek Hines told the court, "Addiction may not be a choice, but lying and buying a gun is a choice." 

In closing arguments Monday, prosecutors said the central issue was whether Hunter Biden was an unlawful user or addicted to a controlled substance when he purchased the firearm. They reviewed witness testimony, text messages, photographs, bank withdrawals and his memoir. And they acknowledged the evidence was very "personal" and "ugly" but "absolutely necessary" to prove his addiction. 

Hunter Biden's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, argued that Hunter Biden did not consider himself to be an addict when he bought the gun. He had been in rehab and was trying to be sober, Lowell said, and to a drug addict, there's a difference on a form between the question "are you a drug user" and "have you been a drug user?"

Lowell also argued there were gaps in the evidence of Hunter Biden's use of drugs during the 11-day period that he owned the firearm, saying that key witnesses, like ex-girlfriend Zoe Kestan, had no evidence of his drug use. He said prosecutors had not proven the large cash withdrawals were used for drug transactions. 

Lowell also pointed to testimony from Gordon Cleveland, the gun shop employee who sold Hunter Biden the weapon and testified that he didn't appear to be under the influence when he bought the gun. 

While prosecutor Leo Wise did not directly reference the first family members who have been attending, he reminded the jury "the people sitting in the gallery are not evidence" and "their presence in the courtroom has no bearing on the case." President Biden has not been in the courtroom, but first lady Jill Biden has attended nearly every day. The Bidens' daughter Ashley Biden, Mr. Biden's siblings Valerie and Jimmy Biden and Hunter Biden's wife Melissa Cohen Biden all sat in the front row with the first lady on Monday.

The prosecution called several witnesses, including several of the women in Hunter Biden's life: ex-wife Kathleen Buhle, ex-girlfriend Zoe Kestan and Hallie Biden, the widow of his brother Beau Biden. Hallie Biden, a key witness, told the court she "panicked" when she found the weapon and "just wanted to get rid" of the gun and bullets. 

"I didn't want him to hurt himself or the kids to find it and hurt themselves," she said. 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 Oct. 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. And she acknowledged she had never observed what her father looked like when he was using drugs. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.