NATIONAL NEWS

‘Rust’ armorer’s trial gives Alec Baldwin’s team a window into how his own trial could unfold

Mar 6, 2024, 10:10 PM

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The trial and conviction of a movie armorer in connection with a fatal shooting on the set of the Western movie “Rust” has given Alec Baldwin and his legal team a unusual window into how his own trial in the death could unfold.

A New Mexico jury deliberated less than three hours Wednesday before convicting armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed of involuntary manslaughter in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. She was swiftly taken into custody as she awaits sentencing, facing up to 18 months in prison.

Baldwin figured prominently into testimony and closing arguments over two weeks that highlighted his authority as a co-producer and the lead actor on “Rust.” Both the prosecution and defense in Gutierrez-Reed’s trial dissected video footage of Baldwin before the fatal shooting for clues about breakdowns in firearms safety.

Baldwin’s trial is scheduled for July and will involve the same judge and prosecutors as well as many of the same witnesses. Baldwin has maintained that he pulled back the gun’s hammer, but not the trigger, and the weapon fired, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

Having seen Gutierrez-Reed’s trial play out will be a boon to Baldwin and his legal team, said Emily D. Baker, a legal analyst and former Los Angeles deputy district attorney who wasn’t involved in the case but followed it closely.

“They’re in the incredible position of getting to watch this prosecutor in action, see how this judge works, and come in knowing exactly what these experts are going to say and how they present to the jury,” Baker said Wednesday. “I don’t think Baldwin’s going to want to deal in this case, and I think his legal team will tell him this is a very different case than the case against Hannah.”

A weapons expert for the prosecution in Gutierrez-Reed’s case gave strong testimony, Baker said. But the armorer expert was aligned with what Baldwin’s team has been saying all along — that it wasn’t his job to check the weapon, Baker said.

Expert witness and movie firearms consultant Bryan Carpenter testified that images showed Baldwin firing blanks toward a camera within a “no-go” zone at close range, flouting safety protocols as he commanded crew members to quickly reload his revolver, and waving a gun like a pointing stick after the close of one scene. Another clip captures the sound of Baldwin firing a gun after a director calls out, “Cut!”

Investigators haven’t found any video recordings of the shooting, which took place during a rehearsal inside a makeshift church on Oct. 21, 2021, on a movie set outside Santa Fe. But Gutierrez-Reed’s trial included previously undisclosed testimony from eyewitnesses to the shooting.

Those witnesses included Souza, who felt the shock of a bullet’s impact as he moved in for a view of the camera monitor — but never saw the gun that shot him.

A camera-dolly operator and the assistant director Dave Halls also gave visceral accounts of the revolver firing and the aftermath. Script writer Mamie Mitchell testified that the script didn’t call for Baldwin to point the gun.

“Alec Baldwin’s conduct and his lack of gun safety inside that church on that day is something that he’s going to have to answer for,” prosecutor Kari Morrissey said in her closing arguments against Gutierrez-Reed. “Not with you and not today. That’ll be with another jury, on another day.”

Morrissey and co-counsel Jason Lewis presented the case against Baldwin to a grand jury in January and secured an indictment on the single felony count that gives them two pathways to prosecution. A recent analysis of the gun gave them the opportunity to reboot the case after an initial involuntary manslaughter charge against Baldwin was dismissed.

That analysis by Forensic Science Services in Arizona concluded “the trigger had to be pulled or depressed sufficiently to release the fully cocked or retracted hammer of the evidence revolver.”

The author of an earlier FBI report on the gun testified at the Gutierrez-Reed trial that the gun arrived with all safety features in working order, and that only way the revolver would fire with the hammer full retracted was to strike it with a mallet and break it.

Defense attorneys for Baldwin have shown no sign of compromise with special prosecutors appointed by Santa Fe-area District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, who is running for reelection and confronting a Democratic primary challenge by a former DA in June.

A February fundraising message from Carmack-Altwies vowed justice for Hutchins and her family “no matter who else is involved,” without naming Baldwin.

“No one avoids culpability due to fame, wealth, or connections in my jurisdiction,” she wrote.

During Gutierrez-Reed’s trial last week, one witness for the prosecution stated the obvious as a prosecutor asked, “Is Mr. Baldwin on trial today?”

“It appears that he is a bit, yes,” said Ross Addiego, a crew member who witnessed the fatal shooting at close range and has sued Baldwin in civil court.

The lawsuit is one in a series of legal actions, including wrongful death claims filed by members of Hutchins’ family, centered on accusations that the defendants were lax with safety standards. Baldwin and other defendants have disputed those allegations.

The filming of “Rust” moved to Montana after the shooting in New Mexico, under an agreement with Hutchins’ widower, Matthew Hutchins, that made him an executive producer.

___

Dalton reported from Los Angeles.

National News

Associated Press

Wildfire north of Los Angeles spreads as authorities issue evacuation orders

GORMAN, Calif. (AP) — Authorities issued evacuation orders Saturday as a wildfire in Los Angeles County spread thousands of acres close to a major highway and threatened nearby structures, officials said. The blaze that is being called the Post Fire burned more than 3,600 acres (5.6 square miles or 14.5 square kilometers) near the Interstate […]

2 hours ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Shooting at splash pad in Detroit suburb leaves ‘numerous wounded victims,’ authorities say

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Multiple people were wounded Saturday in a shooting at a splash pad in the Detroit suburb of Rochester Hills, authorities said. Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard told reporters that “it sounds like we have nine, maybe 10 victims with gunshot wounds, victims of varying kinds of injuries.” Authorities said they […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs returns key to New York City in response to video of him attacking singer Cassie

NEW YORK (AP) — Sean “ Diddy ” Combs has returned his key to New York City after a request from Mayor Eric Adams in response to the release of a video showing the music mogul attacking R&B singer Cassie, officials said Saturday. The mayor’s office said Combs returned the key after Adams sent letters […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Victim identified in Southern California homicide case, 41 years after her remains were found

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A victim whose skull was found by children in a Southern California city in 1983 has been identified 41 years after her remains were first discovered, authorities said. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department identified the victim Friday as Maritza Glean Grimmett, a Panamanian native who moved to the U.S. in […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Missouri abortion ban wasn’t about lawmakers imposing religious beliefs, judge says

A judge in Missouri says lawmakers who passed a restrictive abortion ban weren’t trying to impose their religious beliefs on everyone in the state, rejecting a case filed by more than a dozen Christian, Jewish and Unitarian Universalist leaders who support abortion rights. The groups sought a permanent injunction last year barring Missouri from enforcing […]

7 hours ago

‘Rust’ armorer’s trial gives Alec Baldwin’s team a window into how his own trial could unfold