Jury reaches verdict in Hunter Biden gun trial

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By Tom Hals and Jack Queen

WILMINGTON, Delaware (Reuters) -The jury weighing whether to convict President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden of lying about his drug use to illegally buy a gun has reached a verdict, a court official said on Tuesday.

Hunter Biden, 54, is the first child of a sitting president to face a criminal trial.

The jury deliberated for about three hours.

He pleaded not guilty to felony charges that include (1) lying about his addiction when he filled out a government screening document for a Colt Cobra revolver and (2) illegally possessing the weapon for 11 days.

The trial in Wilmington, Delaware – the Bidens’ hometown – followed another historic verdict. On May 30, Donald Trump became the first former U.S. president to be found guilty of a felony and the Republican challenger to Joe Biden, a Democrat, in the Nov. 5 presidential election.

Trump, convicted on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to cover up a sex scandal, accuses Democrats of pursuing that case and three other criminal prosecutions to prevent him from regaining power in his rematch with Joe Biden.

Congressional Democrats have pointed to cases including the Hunter Biden prosecution as evidence that Joe Biden is not using the justice system for political or personal ends, having said last week he would not pardon his son if convicted.

The Hunter Biden case was brought by U.S. Department of Justice Special Counsel David Weiss, a Trump appointee.

Weiss has also charged Hunter Biden with three felony and six misdemeanor tax offenses in California, alleging he failed to pay $1.4 million in taxes between 2016 and 2019 while spending millions on drugs, escorts, exotic cars and other high-ticket items.

Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty also to those charges. A trial is scheduled for Sept. 5 in Los Angeles.

The Delaware trial included prosecution testimony by Hunter Biden’s ex-wife, former girlfriend and sister-in-law, who gave firsthand accounts of his spiraling addiction in the weeks before and after he bought the gun in October 2018.

Prosecutors also showed text messages, photos and bank records that they said showed Biden was deep in the throes of addiction when he bought the gun and knowingly broke the law by answering “no” to being a drug user on a government screening form.

Biden’s lawyers sought to show he was not using drugs when he bought the gun and did not intend to deceive because he didn’t consider himself a drug user when he filled out the form.

The defense called Hunter Biden’s daughter, Naomi Biden, who testified that her father seemed to be doing well when she saw him shortly before and after he bought the gun.

The sentencing guidelines for the gun-related charges against Biden are 15 to 21 months, but legal experts say defendants in similar cases often get shorter sentences and are less likely to be incarcerated if they abide by the terms of their pretrial release.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Howard Goller)

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