New Mexico prosecutors will file criminal charges against Alec Baldwin for the 2021 murder of cinematographer Halina Hutchins on the set of Rust, authorities said Thursday.
Baldwin, an Emmy Award-winning star of Studio 30 and dozens of films including The Hunt for Red October, fired a bullet at Hutchins. Baldwin said he “didn’t pull the trigger” in an interview with ABC. FBI forensic report obtained by ABC News found that despite Baldwin’s denial, the gun could not fire without pulling the trigger.
Baldwin and the film’s gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez-Reid will be charged with two counts of manslaughter. Prosecutors say one of the charges relates to manslaughter, in which prosecutors will have to prove covert negligence. This is a fourth-degree felony that carries a penalty of up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The second charge is manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, a more serious charge that requires proof that the cause of death was not just negligence, prosecutors said. This charge includes firearm enhancements that add a mandatory penalty of five years in prison.
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will be charged under a standard called “alternative charging.” If the case goes to trial, the jury will determine which of the two counts they are guilty of.
Rust assistant director David Halls signed a plea agreement on charges of negligent use of a deadly weapon, resulting in a suspended sentence and six months’ probation.
“If even one of these three people – Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reid or David Halls – had done their job, Halina Hutchins would be alive today. It’s that simple,” Andrea Rib, special prosecutor for the case, said. statement on Thursday. “The evidence clearly shows a criminal disregard for safety on the set of Rust.
The prosecutor’s decision is “a terrible miscarriage of justice,” said Luke Nikas, Baldwin’s lawyer. “Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe that there was a live bullet in the gun or anywhere else on the set. He relied on the professionals he worked with to assure him that the pistol contained no live ammunition. accusations, and we will win.”
Through lawyers, Hutchins’ relatives thanked the authorities for reviewing the charges.
“It’s a comfort to the family that no one is above the law in New Mexico,” attorney Brian Panish said. “We support the charges, will fully cooperate with this prosecution, and sincerely hope that the justice system works to protect society and hold those who break the law accountable.”
According to the documents obtained by the New York Post in September, the district attorney’s office had been waiting to review evidence from the FBI investigation since October 2021 after the accidental shooting occurred. Once the office received the evidence, the district attorney announced that she intended to file charges and applied for $635,500 in emergency funding to hire a specialized team, including a new prosecutor, investigator, and representative, to handle the case. The DA received about half of the requested funds.
Hutchins was shot and killed on October 21, 2021 during a scene where Baldwin used a handgun with live ammunition instead of dummies, contrary to Hollywood movie standards. Joel Souza, the film’s director, was hit by a bullet but later recovered.
Hall, the film’s assistant director, admitted less than a week after filming that he had not properly checked the gun for safety before turning it over to the film’s gunsmith, Gutiérrez Reed, who gave it to Baldwin for the scene.
Hutchins’ death intensified the wave of calls for safer on-set filming protocols. Eventually, in February 2022, her family sued Baldwin and the film’s producers for wrongful death. The lawsuit was settled in October and filming resumed with Matt Hutchins, Galina’s widower, serving as executive producer.
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