January 31, 2023

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Alec Baldwin to be charged with murder in ‘Rust’ shooting

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Alec Baldwin and the gunman on the set of “Rust” will be charged with involuntary manslaughter in the October 2021 death of cinematographer Halina Hutchins.

Santa Fe, NM The armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, opened fire to kill Hutchins while preparing to film a scene at the nearby Bonanza Creek Ranch church building to load weapons.

First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altweiss in Santa Fe announced the charges in a statement Thursday.

Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed each face two counts of involuntary manslaughter, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison. They will also be charged with an enhancement for use of a firearm that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.

Prosecutors also announced that the film’s first assistant director, David Halls, had agreed to plead guilty to a charge of “negligent use of a deadly weapon.” Hall handed Baldwin a loaded Colt .45. Under the plea agreement, the Halls will be given six months of probation but no jail time.

“Halina Hutchins would be alive today if any of these three people – Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez Reid or David Halls – had done their job,” said Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor appointed by Carmack-Altwiese, who oversaw the case. A statement “It’s that simple. The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on ‘Rusty’ film sets. In New Mexico, there is no place for a film set that doesn’t take seriously our state’s commitment to gun safety and public safety.”

Baldwin said Halls told him the weapon was “cold,” meaning it only contained dummy rounds. But investigators found the gun was loaded with a live bullet, which went through Hutchins’ torso and into director Joel Souza’s shoulder.

Hutchins was airlifted to a hospital in Albuquerque, where he was pronounced dead later that day.

Brian Panish, the attorney for Hutchins’ widow and son, issued a statement Thursday on behalf of the family supporting the allegations.

“We would like to thank the Santa Fe Sheriff and District Attorney for completing their thorough investigation and confirming the charges of involuntary manslaughter for the killing of Halina Hutchins with a conscious disregard for human life,” Panish said. “Our independent investigation also supports that the allegations are warranted. It’s a comfort to the family that, in New Mexico, no one is above the law. We support the allegations, will cooperate fully with this prosecution and sincerely hope that the justice system works to protect the public and hold those who break the law accountable.”

Baldwin has repeatedly argued that he is not responsible for the incident. His attorneys alleged that Halls, Gutierrez Reed and two others were guilty of a chain of wrongdoing that led to the shooting.

Baldwin’s attorney Luke Nikas said in a statement Thursday that the decision “distorts the tragic death of Halina Hutchins and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice.”

“Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the movie set,” Nikas said. No. We will fight these charges and we will win.”

Baldwin told interviewers that he did not pull the trigger and that the gun went off when the hammer was released. An FBI forensic analysis determined the gun was functioning normally.

The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office handed over its investigation to the prosecutor’s office in October, more than a year after the shooting. Carmack-Altwies submitted a request for $635,500 in state funding last year to pay for four criminal trials. He was paid half.

The prosecutor’s office decided not to file charges against Sarah Zachary, the propmaster who worked closely with Gutierrez Reed, or weapons supplier Seth Kenny. Both are named as defendants in several civil suits.

In a statement, the prosecutor’s office said involuntary manslaughter charges would be filed against Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed before the end of the month. Both defendants will then make a “first appearance” in court, which can be done virtually.

The next step will be a preliminary hearing, where prosecutors must present enough evidence to show that the case is going to trial. No court date has been set yet.

Hutchins’ death has led to a wider conversation about set safety, although to date no new legislation has been passed to tighten regulations.

Much of the investigation centered on Gutierrez Reid, the 24-year-old armorer. Gutierrez Reid was only working as an armorer for the second time, and his time was split between that job and props work.

Baldwin and the film’s producers announced a civil settlement with Halina Hutchins’ widow, Matthew Hutchins, on October 5. Under the deal, the producers plan to resume filming and hope to complete the film and submit it for a cinematography award.

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