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Judge Maryellen Noreika blocks key defense evidence and witnesses on eve of Hunter Biden gun trial

Aaron Schwartz/SIPAPRE/Sipa /AP

Hunter Biden at the White House on April 1, 2024.

Wilmington, Delaware

The federal judge overseeing Hunter Biden’s gun trial dealt his defense two setbacks Sunday, on the eve of jury selection, by blocking one of his expert witnesses and excluding a key piece of evidence that the president’s son hoped to use.

Judge Maryellen Noreika’s rulings resolved some of the sticking points that were still simmering before the trial began Monday. Taken together, these decisions could make Hunter Biden’s victory even more difficult. President Joe Biden’s son has pleaded not guilty to illegally purchasing and possessing a firearm while abusing illegal drugs.

Noreika granted Special Counsel David Weiss’ request to prevent one of Hunter Biden’s expert witnesses from testifying. The defense had identified a Columbia University-based psychiatrist who allegedly tried to poke holes in prosecutors’ claims that Hunter Biden knew he was a drug addict in 2018 when he purchased the gun that led to his charge.

“The inadequacy of the defendant’s expert statement regarding Dr. (Elie) Aoun leaves the government in the dark as to his opinions on the facts of this case, thereby rendering the government incapable of preparing for trial,” Noreika wrote in her decision. .

The judge also blocked Hunter Biden’s lawyers from using what they believed to be a key piece of exculpatory evidence: an altered version of the federal firearms form he filled out when purchasing the gun. weapon in 2018 and which was modified in 2021 by employees of the gun store.

Hunter Biden’s lawyers recently argued in court that they wanted to use the falsified form to undermine the credibility of the employees, who must testify on behalf of prosecutors. They also claimed it showed prosecutors were politically “biased.”

But Noreika ruled that the modified version of the form was “irrelevant and impermissible,” and she went on to blast Hunter Biden’s team for pushing “conspiratorial” theories and “unsubstantiated rhetoric” about the motivations of employees at the Wilmington Armory.

“Any probative value it arguably has is far outweighed by the risk of unfair prejudice, confusing the issues and misleading the jury,” she wrote, further adding that any attempt by the defense to use the modified form to demonstrate employees’ political bias claims would have been “unduly prejudicial and would have led to (jury) nullification.”

Only the original form – known as ATF Form 4473 – will be presented to the jury.

On that form, Hunter Biden is accused of falsely swearing that he was not using drugs or dependent on drugs, which allowed him to purchase the gun. Prosecutors say he was still addicted to crack at that time, as he described in his memoir.

Jury selection for the trial is expected to begin Monday morning in Wilmington.

News Source : amp.cnn.com
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