Actor Alec Baldwin could still face charges in the fatal shooting on the set of Rust, if forensic tests determine the weapon involved did not malfunction, New Mexico prosecutors have revealed.
In a recent court filing, Santa Fe County prosecutors said they will decide within the next 60 days whether to bring new charges, after sending the weapon that fired the fatal bullet for further testing.
Baldwin, 65, was holding the Colt .45 Peacemaker revolver as a prop while filming his Western movie when it unloaded on set in October 2021, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
The actor had been charged with manslaughter, but that charge was dropped in April after prosecutors said new evidence showed the gun’s hammer had been modified, raising questions as to whether the gun could fire without pulling the trigger.
Baldwin insisted he never pulled the trigger, but an earlier FBI test revealed he would not fire unless the trigger was pulled.
Actor Alec Baldwin could still face charges in the fatal shooting on the set of Rust, if forensic tests determine the weapon involved did not malfunction, prosecutors say
Baldwin, 65, was holding a Colt .45 revolver as a prop while filming his Western movie when it unloaded on set in October 2021, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins (above)
Now, New Mexico prosecutors say the weapon’s “trigger,” which holds the dog in the cocked position until the trigger is pulled, was damaged in FBI testing. They also believe that the hammer may have been modified.
Prosecutors say further testing by the state’s independent expert is needed to see how the hammer was modified, the source of the modification and what impact it might have on the firearm’s performance. .
“If it is determined that the weapon did not malfunction, charges against Mr. Baldwin will be pursued,” prosecutors wrote Friday in a court filing in the case of Rust gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez Reed. , who remains charged with manslaughter in the case.
“The prosecution expects to make a final decision on charging Mr. Baldwin within the next sixty days,” added the motion from special prosecutors Kari Morrisey and Jason Lewis.
A lawyer for Baldwin did not immediately respond to a DailyMail.com request for comment Thursday evening.
Miguel Custodio, a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer who is unrelated to the case, criticized prosecutors for publicly announcing the possibility of new charges, calling it “another mistake” in a case full of unforced errors.
“They created unnecessary delay by announcing that they would decide whether to bill Alec Baldwin within 60 days,” Custodio said in remarks to DailyMail.com.
‘They had nothing to say, but now they have to make a public decision by mid-August or else they will end up adding to the impression that the case is progressing in chaos mode, just as was the Rust set. It is a complete dysfunction,” he added.
Baldwin, seen on the Rust set with fake blood on the day of the fatal shooting, had been charged with manslaughter, but that charge was dropped in April.
Prosecutors said new evidence showed the gun’s hammer had been modified, raising questions about whether the gun could fire without pulling the trigger.
Baldwin was initially charged with two counts of manslaughter, including one with a gun upgrade that could have added years to any prison sentence if convicted.
But the enhanced charge was dropped after it emerged she had been subject to a law that did not exist at the time of the shooting, in an apparently incipient legal error by prosecutors.
The remaining charge was dropped in April following new evidence surrounding the deadly weapon, adding to the appearance of chaos.
The evidence apparently related to modifications of the reproduction of the long Colt .45 revolver that Baldwin was using in the scene.
“The modification appears to be related to the notches on the inside of the hammer for the full cock, half cock and quarter cock positions,” prosecutors said in court documents.
“It looks like those notches have been partially removed or ground down so they’re less prominent.”
As of now, Gutierrez-Reed, the film’s weapon handler, is the only person still charged with Hutchins’ death. She pleaded not guilty to manslaughter.
Prosecutors Morrisey and Lewis said while the condition of the weapon had significant implications for the charges against Baldwin, Gutierrez-Reed did not.
Gutierrez-Reed said she loaded the live bullet into the revolver used by Baldwin, thinking it was a dummy bullet.
However, her attorney has previously insisted that she never purchased or had access to live bullets and had no role in bringing a real bullet to the set.
As of now, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the film’s gunslinger, is the only person still charged with Hutchins’ death. She pleaded not guilty to manslaughter
Baldwin was pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins (pictured) on the New Mexico film set in October 2021 when it exploded, killing her and injuring the film’s director
Prosecutors said in a recent filing there was ‘evidence’ to support the theory that Gutierrez-Reed introduced the bullet live, pointing to four spent shell casings in his kit bag of guns that appear to match live bullets found on the New Mexico shelf.
Earlier this week, prosecutors suggested in a court filing that they plan to pursue a legal strategy against Gutierrez-Reed that experts warn is highly questionable.
They now base part of their case against her on the idea that she was hungover after a night of drinking and marijuana, impairing her judgment on set.
Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyers argue that prosecutors are resorting to defamation, citing substance use that they say has nothing to do with the events on set.
Lawyers unconnected to the case say the prosecution’s new “hangover” strategy will be difficult to prove and could backfire on a jury.
“Prosecutors saying she was ‘probably hungover’ seems like a very tenuous assumption,” said Custodio, the personal injury attorney.
“Unlike a case where you have evidence that someone was drunk, like a blood alcohol level or evidence that someone was high, you can’t really prove someone was hungover because it there is no evidence that can confirm this,” he added.
“While marijuana and alcohol hangovers are known to cause difficulty concentrating or memory problems, the prosecution is left to inferences and possibly witness testimony to try to prove that it is. was a factor in Hutchins’ death.”