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A hometown jury decides Hunter Biden's fate: 'It's time to end this case'

Matt Hamilton, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

WILMINGTON, Del. — Before the jury began deliberating Monday about whether to find Hunter Biden guilty of illegally buying a gun while he was addicted to crack cocaine, federal prosecutors called out the elephant in the courtroom.

Sitting in the front row were First Lady Jill Biden, President Joe Biden's sister and brother, Hunter's wife, Melissa Cohen Biden, and several other relatives and associates.

"The people sitting in the gallery are not evidence," said Leo J. Wise, the Senior Asst. Special Counsel. Jurors may have recognized the boldfaced names from the news and might have seen them react to evidence or testimony, Wise said. "Respectfully, none of that matters."

"No one is above the law, and this case stands for that simple proposition," Wise said.

So began the closing arguments in Hunter Biden's criminal trial here in the Biden family's home turf of Delaware, capping an extraordinary five days of testimony about the depths of the president's son's drug addiction as prosecutors seek to convict him of three felonies: lying on a federal background check form about his crack habit in order to buy a Colt revolver, giving a false statement to a federal firearms dealer and possessing a gun while being an illicit drug user.

When defense attorney Abbe Lowell came to the dais in the fourth-floor courtroom for his 90-minute closing argument, he lambasted prosecutors for singling out Hunter Biden's mom, wife and sister.

 

"It's time to end this case," said Lowell, urging jurors to focus on the holes in the evidence: that no witness saw Hunter using drugs in and around the 11-day period when he owned the handgun, that his memoir published years later was not a diary indicative of his state of mind, and that text messages from months or years before or after he bought the gun do little to elucidate how he "knowingly" filled out his background check form.

"We have had Hunter's life in our hands," Lowell told the panel. "But now, I have to give it to you."

The jurors deliberated for about an hour before leaving for the day and are scheduled to resume Tuesday morning. If convicted of all three counts, Hunter faces years in prison and steep fines, though first-time offenders typically see little to no time in custody.

In his hour-long summation of the case, Wise — a longtime federal prosecutor — walked through the evidence: that Hunter Biden had used crack cocaine for years and that he walked into a Wilmington, Del., gun shop on Oct. 12, 2018, and purchased a Colt revolver.

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