Prosecutors will need a mountain of evidence to paint Alec Baldwin as a criminally negligent gunman, skeptical defense attorneys said Friday, as Hollywood appeared to rally around the often polarizing actor.
Baldwin and “Rust” gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez-Reed will be charged with manslaughter in connection with the on-set slaying of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, New Mexico 1st Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack said Thursday. -Altwies.
Both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed have denied any wrongdoing and vowed to fight the charges.
Baldwin has maintained that he did not fire the shot that killed Hutchins on October 21, 2021, on the set of the western in New Mexico.
But prosecutors insist they have FBI lab reports showing Baldwin fired the fatal round.
“There is more than enough evidence to indict this case. If I was sitting around while the DA and the FBI came back and told me you had to use force to pull the trigger on the gun (to fire), then I probably would have indicted, too. the case,” said University of New Mexico law professor Joshua Kastenberg, a former attorney and US Air Force judge.
“But I will say this: It’s really hard to prove a case like this.”
Carmack-Altwies and special counsel Andrea Reeb said Thursday they don’t know how a live bullet ended up in the gun and likely will never know the source.
“There’s no way this jury wouldn’t hold some kind of liability on the state: ‘Wait a minute, you want me to assign liability to an actor (Baldwin) but you can’t even tell me how the live round got there.” ?’ said Albuquerque-based criminal defense attorney Ahmad Assed.
“Is there some intentional act that put that live out there that we know nothing about? The state has not clarified that issue.”
Prosecutors have questioned the origin of the bullet as a “red herring” and attributed Hutchins’ death to the defendants’ alleged criminal negligence in failing to check the weapon.
“But if I’m arguing for closure, I say, ‘jurors, the prosecutor doesn’t even know how this gun accidentally became a dangerous weapon,'” NBC legal analyst Danny Cevallos said.
“‘They don’t know who’s responsible for putting a live round on set. Isn’t that the real bad guy?'”
Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas, has said the actor “had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun, or anywhere on the set. He relied on the professionals he worked with, who assured him that the weapon had no live bullets. We will fight these charges and we will win.”
A lawyer for Gutierrez-Reed also vowed to prove that his client is not guilty.
“She did not commit manslaughter,” Jason Bowles said in a statement. “These charges are the result of a seriously flawed investigation and an inaccurate understanding of all the facts. We intend to expose the full truth and we believe that Hannah will be exonerated by a jury.”
Veteran actress and “Rust” co-star Frances Fisher said Friday that she believes the wrong people are being accused.
He urged prosecutors to stop “blaming the victim” and rhetorically asked “how about we investigate who put the actual bullet in the gun?”
“No one is asking who put the real bullet in the prop gun,” Fisher, best known for her role on “Titanic,” tweeted. “That’s the thing. Everything else is blame and scapegoating.”
Hutchins’ death has raised questions about the use of firearms on the sets of television shows and movies.
But Los Angeles firearms instructor Scott Reitz, who also works as a weapons consultant for film and television productions, insisted that proper protocols are well known and followed in Hollywood.
“He (Baldwin) trusts professionals who tell him, ‘You’re ready to go.’ The protocols are there, they just have to be followed,” said Reitz, a University of New Mexico alumnus and former LAPD SWAT officer.
“An actor trusts professional people who handle the gun and trust that it will be in the condition that you want it to be. He is an actor, he is just an actor.
Baldwin also has the unwavering support of SAG-AFTRA, the union that represents actors.
“The prosecutor’s assertion that an actor has a duty to ensure the functional and mechanical operation of a firearm on a production set is incorrect and uninformed,” according to a union statement. “An actor’s job is not to be an expert on weapons or firearms. “
Despite this week’s announcement of criminal charges, production on “Rust” will continue at some point with Joel Souza in the director’s chair, said attorney Melina Spadone, who represents Rust Movie Productions LLC.
Souza was wounded but not killed in the shooting on October 21, 2021.
“Rust” is “on track to completion with Mr. Baldwin in the title role and Joel Souza” directing, the lawyer said.
Spadone added that “live ammunition is, and always has been, prohibited.”
No time frame or new location has yet been selected for filming for “Rust.” Locations outside of Los Angeles are being considered.