Alec Baldwin cast as reckless flouter of rules at his trial in cinematographer’s shooting

Jul 10, 2024, 9:02 PM | Updated: Jul 11, 2024, 4:42 pm

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Prosecutors sought to cast Alec Baldwin as someone who flouts rules and has little regard for safety at the first day of his New Mexico trial in the shooting of a cinematographer.

Special prosecutor Erlinda Ocampo Johnson repeatedly referred to Baldwin playing “make-believe” with a revolver on the set of the film “Rust,” and said it led to very real danger and the death of Halyna Hutchins, whom she called “a vibrant 42-year-old rising star.”

Ocampo Johnson told jurors in her opening statement Wednesday that Baldwin “requested to be assigned the biggest gun available” and that during a training session for it, he had “people filming him while he’s running around shooting this gun.”

The prosecutor said behind-the-scenes video will show Baldwin casually disregarding basic firearm safety.

“You will see him using this gun as a pointer to point at people, point at things,” Ocampo Johnson said. “You will see him cock the hammer when he is not supposed to cock the hammer, you will see him put his finger on the trigger when his finger’s not supposed to be on the trigger.”

Hutchins’ death and the wounding of director Joel Souza nearly three years ago sent shock waves through the film industry and led to the felony involuntary manslaughter charge against Baldwin that could result in up to 18 months in prison.

The trial of the 66-year-old star of “30 Rock” and frequent host of “Saturday Night Live” continues Thursday with testimony from a crime scene technician with the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department.

The beginning of testimony of the technician, Marissa Poppell, allowed jurors to see the revolver and the spent round from the shooting.

Baldwin’s lawyer Alex Spiro emphasized in his opening statement that Baldwin did only what actors always do.

“He must be able to take that weapon and use it in the way that the person he’s playing would,” Spiro told jurors.

That includes pulling the trigger. Baldwin has said the gun fired accidentally, but Spiro said that it still would not be manslaughter even if he had willfully fired it.

“On a movie set, you’re allowed to pull that trigger,” said Spiro.

Spiro called the shooting an “unspeakable tragedy” and that an “amazing person” dies, but said the responsibility lies with the film’s armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who has already been convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and of assistant director David Halls, who told Baldwin the gun was “cold.”

“It had been checked and double checked by those responsible for ensuring the gun was safe,” Spiro said. “He did not tamper with it, he did not load it himself. He did not leave it unattended.”

The first witness to take the stand was Nicholas LeFleur, the first law enforcement officer to arrive at the movie set at Bonanza Creek Ranch after the shooting, and his lapel camera video gave jurors a glimpse of the chaotic scene: a grim view of an apparently unconscious Hutchins as LeFleur and others worked to revive her.

Later in the video, LeFleur can be seen telling Baldwin not to speak to the other potential witnesses, but Baldwin repeatedly does.

“Was Mr. Baldwin supposed to be talking about the incident?” special prosecutor Kari Morrissey asked him.

“No ma’am,” LeFleur replied.

“Does he appear to be doing it anyway?” Morrissey asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” LeFleur said.

Among those sitting in the gallery behind Baldwin watching the trial were his wife Hilaria Baldwin, younger brother Stephen Baldwin and older sister Elizabeth Keuchler — who wiped away tears at times during the proceedings.


Dalton reported from Los Angeles.

___ For more coverage of Alec Baldwin’s involuntary manslaughter trial, visit:

National News

FILE - This photo supplied by the U.S. Attorney's Office for Minnesota shows cash from a bag that w...

Associated Press

Man pleads guilty to bribing a Minnesota juror with a bag of cash in COVID-19-related fraud case

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — One of five people charged with attempting to bribe a Minnesota juror with a bag of $120,000 in cash in exchange for an acquittal in a fraud case pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday. Abdimajid Mohamed Nur, 23, pleaded guilty to one count of bribery of a juror, admitting that he recruited […]

19 minutes ago

Jessica and Gary Norton, parents of a transgender student and volleyball player formerly of Monarch...

Associated Press

Florida school board unlikely to fire mom whose transgender daughter played on girls volleyball team

PLANTATION, Fla. (AP) — A Florida school board appeared unlikely Tuesday to fire an employee whose transgender daughter played girls’ high school volleyball in alleged violation of state law, but postponed their final decision until next week. The board is in Broward, one of the state’s most politically liberal counties, with twice as many Democrats […]

27 minutes ago

FILE - Supporters of President Donald Trump try to break through a police barrier, Jan. 6, 2021, du...

Associated Press

Wisconsin man charged with fleeing to Ireland to avoid prison term for Capitol riot role

A Wisconsin man fled to Ireland and sought asylum to avoid a prison sentence for joining a mob’s attack on the U.S. Capitol over three years ago, federal authorities allege in a court filing Tuesday. The filing charges Paul Kovacik with defying a court order to surrender and serve three months behind bars for participating […]

52 minutes ago

Temarkus Washington, who says the sexual abuse he experienced as a teenager at a troubled Chicago j...

Associated Press

Survivors sue Illinois over decades of sexual abuse at Chicago youth detention center

CHICAGO (AP) — Temarkus Washington says the sexual abuse he experienced as a teenager at a troubled Chicago youth detention center still gives him nightmares. The 35-year-old spoke publicly about his experiences Tuesday, a day after joining two lawsuits collecting dozens of abuse allegations at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, one of the […]

53 minutes ago

FILE - A passer-by walks through a portion of the Cass Recreational Complex which has been turned i...

Associated Press

Massachusetts issues tighter restrictions on access to homeless shelter system

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey unveiled new restrictions on the state’s homeless family shelter programs Tuesday. Beginning Aug. 1, families who aren’t prioritized for placement in emergency assistance shelters will be eligible to stay at overflow sites for just five days. Healey said she was tightening restrictions on emergency assistance system eligibility because […]

1 hour ago

FILE - Steve Bannon speaks outside Danbury Federal Correctional Institution, July 1, 2024, in Danbu...

Associated Press

Steve Bannon’s trial in border wall fundraising case set for December, after his ongoing prison term

While Steve Bannon serves a four-month federal prison term, the conservative strategist now has a December date for a different trial in New York, where he’s charged with scheming to con donors who gave money to build a border wall with Mexico. With Bannon excused from court because of his incarceration, a judge Tuesday scheduled […]

1 hour ago

Alec Baldwin cast as reckless flouter of rules at his trial in cinematographer’s shooting