‘Rust’ to be completed and will continue to star Alec Baldwin as he faces manslaughter charges in the death of a crew member, lawyer says

‘Rust’ to be completed and will continue to star Alec Baldwin as he faces manslaughter charges in the death of a crew member, lawyer says



CNN

Alec Baldwin, who will face manslaughter charges in the death of a crew member during a rehearsal for the movie “Rust,” will continue to star in the lead role, a production attorney told CNN on Friday.

As the film progresses, the operations will include “set security supervisors and union crew members and will prohibit any use of work weapons or ammunition,” said Melina Spadone, an attorney for Rust Movie Productions.

Spadone’s comments come a day after prosecutors announced plans to charge Baldwin and the film’s gunsmith, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, in the October 2021 shooting death of Halyna Hutchins at a ranch in Santa Faith, New Mexico.

Hutchins, the film’s cinematographer, was hit and killed by a round of live ammunition that Baldwin fired from a prop gun, and director Joel Souza was wounded in the right shoulder. Souza will continue to direct the film as production progresses, Spadone said.

Baldwin, who is also a producer on the film, did not respond to reporters’ requests for comment on the charges as he walked into his Manhattan home on Friday. A source close to Baldwin told CNN on Friday that he plans to complete the film.

Even though the fatal shooting was ruled an accident by New Mexico’s chief medical investigator, prosecutors believe a crime was committed.

“Just because it’s an accident doesn’t mean it’s not a crime,” 1st Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said Thursday in explaining the decision on charges. “Our manslaughter statute covers unintentional killings.”

Carmack-Altwies said she will charge Baldwin and the gunsmith from the film with manslaughter, accusing them of failing to perform safety procedures that could have prevented the accident.

Formal charges are expected to be filed by the end of the month, Carmack-Altwies told CNN.

“Every person who handles a weapon has a duty to ensure that if they are going to handle that weapon, point it at someone and pull the trigger, they will not fire a projectile and kill someone,” Carmack-Altwies. saying.

Still, prosecutors face daunting challenges trying a case centering on a prominent Hollywood figure, in addition to the legal thresholds they must meet to obtain a conviction.

Baldwin has been a major film, Broadway and television star for decades, winning Emmy Awards for the television series “30 Rock” and an Oscar nomination for 2003’s “The Cooler.”

This image from the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office shows the scene of the shooting on October 21, 2021.

The two trials that Baldwin and the gunsmith in the film could potentially face would take weeks to a month and require expert testimony, Carmack-Altwies said.

The district attorney requested $635,000 in “emergency” funds “to prosecute such a high-profile case,” she wrote to state officials last August.

“I need funds for a lawyer, an investigator, a media contact person, a paralegal, expert witnesses and general trial expenses,” he said.

And even before a trial can take place, each defendant will attend a preliminary hearing to determine if there is probable cause for trial.

“These hearings will take weeks to complete and will be done fairly quickly once the charges are filed,” Carmack-Altwies explained.

But the case will be difficult to prosecute given that it’s unclear how the rounds were conducted live on set, according to CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig, adding that experts have differing opinions about the on-set responsibilities of the actors and crew members.

“Remember, this is a criminal case. You need all 12 jurors to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. So I’m not saying there’s no chance here, but this is a really tough case for the prosecution,” Honig said.

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santa fe prosecutor

Santa Fe DA explains decision to charge Alec Baldwin in ‘Rust’ shooting

Baldwin faces charges in both capacities as the person accused of firing the gun and as the film’s producer, Carmack-Altwies said, arguing that Baldwin as a producer had a responsibility to ensure the set was safe.

Gutierrez Reed, the gunsmith in the film who loaded the prop gun, is also responsible for failing to ensure the gun’s safety, prosecutors say. His lawyer has said that he believed the rounds were dummy ammunition.

“Nobody was checking them or at least they weren’t constantly checking them,” Carmack-Altwies said. “And then somehow they loaded into a gun that was given to Alec Baldwin. He didn’t check. He didn’t do any of the things he was supposed to do to make sure he was safe or anyone around him was safe. And then he pointed the gun at Halyna Hutchins and pulled the trigger.”

Baldwin has maintained that he never pulled the trigger and was unaware the gun contained live bullets.

Gutierrez Reed and Baldwin will each face two counts of manslaughter, but each charge carries a different level of punishment, Carmack-Altwies said when announcing the charges.

A jury would decide which charge would be more appropriate and, if convicted, they will only be sentenced to one charge, the prosecutor said.

The conviction for both defendants carries up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine. But one charge carries additional firearms enhancement, because a weapon was involved, and would require a mandatory five-year jail term, Carmack-Altwies said.

Regarding the charges, Gutierrez Reed’s attorney, Jason Bowles, said Thursday: “We look forward to the charges, but they are absolutely wrong about Hannah; we expect a jury to find her not guilty and that she did not commit manslaughter. She has been moved by the tragedy, but she has not committed any crime.”

Meanwhile, Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas, said the actor was “shocked” by the charges.

“Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun, or anywhere on the film set. He relied on the professionals he worked with, who assured him the gun had no live cartridges.”

When prosecutors announced the charges Thursday, Hutchins’ family praised their decision.

“It is a comfort to the family that, in New Mexico, no one is above the law,” the family said in a statement issued by attorney Brian J. Panish.

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