NATIONAL NEWS

New trial denied for ‘Rust’ armorer convicted in fatal shooting of cinematographer by Alec Baldwin

Mar 29, 2024, 11:23 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico judge on Friday rejected an effort by a movie set armorer to challenge her conviction of involuntary manslaughter in the 2021 fatal shooting of a cinematographer by Alec Baldwin on the set of the Western film “Rust.”

After hearing brief arguments during a virtual hearing, Santa Fe-based Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer said she would be staying the course and that armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed would remain in custody pending her sentencing in April.

Gutierrez-Reed was convicted by a jury in early March in the October 2021 shooting on the outskirts of Santa Fe, New Mexico, during a rehearsal. Baldwin was indicted by a grand jury in January and has pleaded not guilty to an involuntary manslaughter charge, with trial set for July.

Defense attorneys for Gutierrez-Reed had filed a request earlier this month for a new trial and urged the judge to release their client from jail as deliberations proceeded. Attorney Jason Bowles told the judge Friday that his client had no violations during the trial, takes care of her father and has been in counseling.

“She hasn’t done anything wrong. She’s not a danger or a flight risk,” he said.

The judge responded: “Keep in mind there was a death that the jury determined was caused by her so I’m not releasing her.”

Involuntary manslaughter carries a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. Gutierrez-Reed is being held at the Santa Fe County Adult Detention Facility.

In court filings, defense attorneys asserted that the jury instructions in the case could confuse jurors and lead to a nonunanimous verdict. Similar objections to the jury instructions were rejected at trial, but Bowles on Friday brought up a new ruling from the New Mexico Supreme Court in an unrelated case that addressed situations when jurors have two or more specific acts to consider when deliberating a charge.

In the case of Gutierrez-Reed, he explained that one act was loading a live round in the gun used on set and the other was the accusation that she did not perform an adequate safety check of the firearm. He was unsuccessful in his argument that jurors should have had separate instructions for each act.

Gutierrez-Reed could be sentenced as soon as April 15 under current scheduling orders.

Baldwin was pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins when the revolver went off, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

Baldwin has maintained that he pulled back the gun’s hammer, but not the trigger. Testimony by an independent gun expert during Gutierrez-Reed’s trial cast doubt on Baldwin’s account that his gun went off without pulling the trigger.

Prosecutors blamed Gutierrez-Reed for unwittingly bringing live ammunition onto the set of “Rust” where it was expressly prohibited. They also said she failed to follow basic gun safety protocols.

“Rust” assistant director and safety coordinator Dave Halls last year pleaded no contest to negligent handling of a firearm and completed a sentence of six months unsupervised probation.

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New trial denied for ‘Rust’ armorer convicted in fatal shooting of cinematographer by Alec Baldwin