Jury selected as Hunter Biden’s trial on gun charges kicks off

US President Joe Biden’s son Hunter has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the purchase and possession of a gun.

Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, arrives at the federal court with his wife Melissa Cohen Biden
Hunter Biden arrives at a US federal court with his wife Melissa Cohen Biden [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

The first day of Hunter Biden’s criminal trial has concluded with a full jury being seated to hear the gun charges facing the president’s son.

Biden, the second son of United States President Joe Biden, faces three felony charges stemming from his purchase and possession of a revolver in 2018, when his memoir indicates he was battling addiction.

Prosecutors accuse the younger Biden of lying on his federal firearms application, which inquires about drug use. He has pleaded not guilty.

At the trial’s start on Monday, in a federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, six men and six women were selected for the jury, as well as four alternate jurors. Opening statements are set to begin on Tuesday.

The trial comes amid President Biden’s campaign for re-election in November and the jury pool was questioned about their ability to remain impartial during the heated political backdrop of the race.

The potential jurors were also asked questions about issues such as drug addiction and gun rights to screen for potential biases. Judge Maryellen Noreika gave the final jury members instructions not to discuss or read about the case before adjourning the hearings on Monday.

Members of the Biden family were also in attendance at Monday’s proceedings, including First Lady Jill Biden, Hunter’s wife Melissa Cohen Biden and his half-sister Ashley Biden.

“Jill and I love our son, and we are so proud of the man he is today,” Joe Biden said in a statement, adding that many families have loved ones who have struggled with addiction.

First lady Jill Biden arrives ahead of Hunter Biden's trial at federal court
US First Lady Jill Biden arrives ahead of Hunter Biden’s trial at federal court [Matt Slocum/AP Photo]

Hunter Biden is charged with lying about his use of illegal drugs when he bought a Colt Cobra .38-calibre revolver and illegally possessing the weapon for 11 days in October 2018.

The trial comes after a plea deal that would have settled the case fell apart in July last year.

If convicted on all charges in the Delaware case, Hunter Biden faces up to 25 years in prison, though defendants generally receive shorter sentences, according to the US Department of Justice.

The case is expected to centre on Hunter Biden’s years-long crack cocaine use and addiction, which he has discussed publicly and which was a prominent part of his 2021 autobiography, entitled Beautiful Things.

He told Judge Noreika at a hearing last year that he has been sober since the middle of 2019.

Prosecutors will seek to prove that Hunter Biden knew he was lying when he ticked the box for “no” next to a question on a federal gun purchase form asking if he was an unlawful user of a controlled substance.

Prosecution lawyers revealed in court filings that they may use details gleaned from Hunter Biden’s phone and iCloud account, including photos of him smoking crack and messages with drug dealers. They said they may call as a witness his former wife, Kathleen Buhle.

Hunter Biden arrives at federal court
Hunter Biden arrives at federal court on Monday to face gun-related charges [Matt Slocum/AP Photo]

Hunter Biden’s lawyers have indicated they may try to show he had completed a drug rehabilitation programme before buying the gun. They say he may have considered his answer on the gun purchase form to be truthful.

Noreika entered multiple orders over the weekend which were requested by prosecutors and which appeared to undercut Biden’s legal strategy.

The judge said Biden’s legal team could not introduce expert testimony that people suffering from substance abuse disorder might not consider themselves an addict.

That testimony could have helped Biden show that he did not know he was lying on the background check form. The government is required to prove that Biden knowingly lied.

Source: News Agencies