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Hunter Biden gun trial jury ends first day of deliberations without reaching verdict

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Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, and his wife, Melissa Cohen Biden, arrive at the federal court for his trial on criminal gun charges, in Wilmington, Delaware, on June 10, 2024.

Hannah Beier | Reuters

Jurors at the criminal gun trial of Hunter Biden ended their first, very brief day of deliberations Monday without reaching a verdict in the case of the son of President Joe Biden.

Hunter Biden is charged in the case with three crimes related to possessing a handgun while being a drug user.

The jury in Wilmington, Delaware, federal court deliberated for only about an hour Monday afternoon before going home for the day.

Earlier, the panel heard closing arguments from the prosecution and defense, as well as instructions on the law by Judge Maryellen Noreika.

"No one is above the law," assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise told jurors in his closing argument.

Wise suggested that jurors focus their attention on evidence in the case, and not on supporters of Biden in attendance, including first lady Jill Biden.

"People sitting in the gallery are not evidence," Wise said.

"The evidence was personal, it was ugly, it was overwhelming," Wise said in his closing argument.

"It was also absolutely necessary," the prosecutor added.

"The United States must prove the defendant was an unlawful user of or addicted to a controlled substance and he knew it," Wise said. "He knew he was using drugs — that's what the evidence shows."

Biden's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, in his closing argument, told jurors prosecutors had a "very high burden" to prove his client's guilt.

"With this very high burden, it's time to end this case," Lowell said.

The defense lawyer argued that despite the prosecution's claim that Biden made a false statement on a form when he purchased a handgun about not being a user of illegal drugs, Biden did not believe that his statements on that form were false.

Lowell argued that there was not sufficient evidence to prove that Biden knew he was an addict during the period detailed in testimony at trial, from 2015 through 2019.

After Lowell finished his argument, another federal prosecutor, Derek Hines, offered a rebuttal to jurors.

Hines said prosecutors had proved Biden was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt "seven ways to Sunday."

"It may seem obvious, but someone who has a crack pipe to his mouth every 15 minutes knows they're an addict," Hines said.

Prosecutors rested their case after recalling FBI Special Agent Erika Jensen to the witness stand for brief rebuttal testimony.

Lowell effectively said Biden would not take the witness stand during a morning hearing with Noreika on proposed jury instructions.

Lowell told Judge Noreika to leave the phrase "did not testify" — referring to Biden — in those instructions.

Noreika denied a request by the defense to change the proposed jury instructions.

Biden's lawyers wanted Noreika to tell jurors that "Mr. Biden's response to the charges is that he never 'knowingly' either possessed a gun when he thought of himself as a user of drugs or addicted to them and he did not 'knowingly' lie on a form that asked him 'are you' a user or addict because he did not believe he was either a drug user or addict at the time."

But the judge said that was an "argument," and not "appropriate" for her to tell the jury.

The trial resumes as former President Donald Trump is expected to have a virtual interview with a New York probation official on Monday, in preparation for his sentencing next month in a criminal hush money case in Manhattan Supreme Court.

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Trump was convicted last month of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to a payoff to porn star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election.

The Republican is set to face Biden's father in November's presidential election.

President Joe Biden said last week that he will not pardon his son if Hunter Biden is convicted in the case, one of two criminal cases the younger Biden faces.

Hunter Biden is scheduled to go on trial later this year in Los Angeles federal court on criminal tax charges.

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