NATIONAL NEWS

Prosecutors accuse weapons expert in Baldwin case of drinking, smoking

Jun 13, 2023, 5:27 PM

FILE - This aerial photo shows the movie set of "Rust," at Bonanza Creek Ranch, Oct. 23, 2021, in S...

FILE - This aerial photo shows the movie set of "Rust," at Bonanza Creek Ranch, Oct. 23, 2021, in Santa Fe, N.M. Prosecutors are accusing the weapons supervisor on the film set where Alec Baldwin shot and killed a cinematographer of drinking and smoking marijuana in the evenings during the filming of “Rust,” saying she was likely hung over when she loaded a live bullet into the revolver that was used by the actor. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The weapons supervisor on the film set where Alec Baldwin shot and killed a cinematographer was drinking and smoking marijuana in the evenings during the filming of “Rust,” prosecutors are accusing, saying she was likely hungover when she loaded a live bullet into the revolver that the actor used.

They leveled the accusations Friday in response to a motion filed last month by Hannah Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys that seeks to dismiss her involuntary manslaughter charge. The prosecutors accused her of having a history of reckless conduct and argued that it would be in the public interest for her to “finally be held accountable.”

Jason Bowles, Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney, said Tuesday that the prosecution has mishandled the case.

“The case is so weak that they now have chosen to resort to character assassination claims about Hannah,” Bowles told The Associated Press. “The prosecution has abandoned the idea of doing justice and getting to the actual truth apparently.”

A preliminary hearing for Gutierrez-Reed is scheduled in August. A judge is expected to decide then if there’s probable cause for Gutierrez-Reed’s charge to move forward.

In the response, the prosecutors also noted that they expected to decide within the next 60 days whether to recharge Baldwin, depending on the results of an analysis of the gun and its broken sear. The items were sent to the state’s independent expert for further testing.

The involuntary manslaughter charge faced by Baldwin, who also was a producer on the film, was dismissed in April, with prosecutors citing new evidence and the need for more time to investigate.

Baldwin was pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal on the New Mexico film set in October 2021 when it went off, killing her and wounding the film’s director, Joel Souza.

Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys had argued in their motion that the prosecution was “tainted by improper political motives” and that Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies and the initial special prosecutor she appointed, Andrea Reeb, “both used the tragic film set accident that resulted in the death of Halyna Hutchins as an opportunity to advance their personal interests.”

The defense lawyers contend that the permanent damage done to the gun by FBI testing before the defense could examine it amounted to destruction of evidence and a violation of the court’s rules of discovery. They also argued that the “selective prosecution” of Gutierrez-Reed was a violation of the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

New special prosecutors who were appointed after Reeb stepped down disputed those claims in their response, saying “nothing about this prosecution has or will be selective.”

The prosecutors also acknowledged the unanswered question of where the live rounds found on set came from, saying they were trying to find out and that the investigation was ongoing. They also suggested there was evidence to support the theory that Gutierrez-Reed herself may responsible and if so, more charges may follow.

They offered no specifics in the filing as to what that evidence might be.

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Prosecutors accuse weapons expert in Baldwin case of drinking, smoking