Indictment against Alec Baldwin in fatal shooting of cinematographer under review for potential dismissal by judge

Alec Baldwin is seeking to have the grand jury indictment against him dismissed, and a New Mexico judge is currently reviewing his request. The court hearing to address this matter is scheduled for Friday in Santa Fe.

In January, Baldwin was indicted for involuntary manslaughter in the tragic shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on October 21, 2021. The incident took place at a movie ranch near Santa Fe.

Baldwin, the main actor and co-producer of the Western film “Rust,” has entered a plea of not guilty to the charge. His attorneys are strongly advocating for the dismissal of the case, asserting that the prosecutors violated the regulations governing grand jury proceedings in order to divert attention from evidence and witnesses that could potentially clear Baldwin of any wrongdoing. If convicted, Baldwin could face a maximum prison sentence of 1.5 years for involuntary manslaughter.

During rehearsal, Baldwin unintentionally discharged a firearm, resulting in the tragic death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and the injury of director Joel Souza. Baldwin has consistently stated that he had pulled back the hammer of the gun, but did not pull the trigger.

Baldwin’s motion to dismiss the indictment also claims that the grand jury was presented with inaccurate and biased testimony regarding the revolver used in the shooting.

Special prosecutors have asserted that they adhered to the established grand jury protocols. They have also accused Baldwin of making “shameless” efforts to avoid taking responsibility for the incident. These efforts are particularly evident in the inconsistencies found in his statements given to law enforcement, workplace safety regulators, and during a televised interview. A jury trial has been scheduled for July.

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Prosecutors focused their entire investigation on Baldwin following the sentencing of movie weapons supervisor Hannah Gutierrez-Reed to the maximum sentence of 1.5 years in a state penitentiary for the involuntary manslaughter conviction related to Hutchins’ tragic death.

Prosecutors dropped the initial involuntary manslaughter charge against Baldwin last year when they were informed that the gun he was holding may have been altered before the incident and malfunctioned. However, a recent examination of the firearm allowed prosecutors to revive the case.

The indictment against Baldwin presents two potential approaches for prosecutors to pursue. One option is to focus on the negligent use of a firearm. Alternatively, they can seek to establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Baldwin caused Hutchins’ death without exercising “due caution” or “circumspection.” These terms refer to an act committed with a complete disregard or indifference towards the safety of others.

Defense attorneys argue that prosecutors deliberately avoided hearing testimony from key witnesses involved in the case, including the film’s director, assistant director, and safety coordinator Dave Halls, as well as props master Sarah Zachry. It is worth noting that Halls had previously pleaded no contest to charges of negligent handling of a firearm and served a six-month sentence of unsupervised probation.

During the two-week trial of Gutierrez-Reed, attorneys for Baldwin and the public were provided with a unique opportunity to witness how the actor’s own trial might unfold.

Baldwin played a significant role in the trial, with both the prosecution and defense emphasizing his position as a co-producer and the lead actor on the film “Rust.” The video footage of Baldwin prior to the tragic shooting was carefully analyzed by both sides to identify any lapses in firearms safety.

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According to prosecutors, Gutierrez-Reed unintentionally brought live ammunition onto the set of “Rust,” a violation of the clear prohibition, and neglected to adhere to fundamental gun safety protocols.

Gutierrez-Reed is currently appealing her conviction, which was determined by a jury in March, to a higher court. However, she has not yet submitted detailed arguments. During her sentencing, Gutierrez-Reed expressed to the judge that she made an effort to do her best on the set, despite not having sufficient time, resources, and staff support.

Following the incident in New Mexico, production on the film “Rust” resumed in Montana. To facilitate this, an agreement was reached with Matthew Hutchins, the husband of the late Halyna Hutchins, who was made an executive producer. The lawsuit filed by Matthew Hutchins and their son in civil court was subsequently settled, with the terms remaining undisclosed.

Defense attorneys claim that Baldwin was presented with an opportunity last year to plead guilty to a lesser charge before a grand jury was assembled. However, they assert that this offer was unexpectedly withdrawn before the deadline for a response.

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