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Charges of Manslaughter against Alec Baldwin Dropped in Connection to the ‘Rust’ Shooting Incident


Involuntary manslaughter charge against Alec Baldwin in the fatal 2021 shooting Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins has been dropped, but New Mexico prosecutors said the decision does not absolve the actor from criminal liability and that there will be further investigation that could lead to new charges.

The decision is the latest setback for the prosecutor in a closely watched case of established safety. After the Santa Fe District Attorney charged gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and Baldwin with two counts of involuntary manslaughter each, an amended complaint was filed lowering the charges. The move, which significantly reduced their possible jail time on conviction to 18 months, came after lawyers for the actor and producer of the low-budget Western argued that their client had been unconstitutionally charged with violating a recently amended firearms improvement statute. that didn’t exist. at the time of the incident. A month later, new special prosecutors were appointed to oversee the criminal prosecution after the prosecutor who previously handled the cases was forced to resign over a potential conflict of interest with her elected position in the New Mexico House of Representatives.

In a statement, Jason Lewis and Kari Morrissey, the special prosecutors leading the case, said that “new facts have come to light that require further investigation and forensic analysis in the case.

“Consequently, we cannot proceed under the current time constraints and on the facts and evidence turned over by law enforcement as it stands,” they added, noting that the decision does not absolve Baldwin of criminal liability. “We will therefore dismiss the involuntary manslaughter charges against Mr. Baldwin to conduct further investigation.”

Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro, the attorneys representing Baldwin, said in a statement: “We are pleased with the decision to dismiss the case against Alec Baldwin and we encourage a proper investigation into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident.”

The district attorney’s office stressed that the charges can be refiled and that a follow-up investigation is still ongoing. Lewis and Morrissey were named in the case after former special counsel Andrea Reeb stepped down.

The charges against Gutierrez-Reed will continue, the special prosecutors said. A two-week preliminary hearing will begin on May 3 to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed with the prosecution. Jason Bowles, Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney, initially narrated The Hollywood Reporter that the charges against the gunsmith would be dropped. The special prosecutors later said the charges against the gunsmith “remain unchanged”.

In a statement, Bowles praised the newly appointed special prosecutors for reviewing the charges.

“The new team of special prosecutors has handled the entire investigation with great diligence and thoroughness, which we welcome and have always applauded,” he said. “They seek the truth and so do we. The truth about what happened will come to light and the questions to which we have long searched for answers will be answered. We fully expect Hannah to be acquitted at the end of this trial.”

Filming on Rust Resumes in Montana this week and is expected to conclude by the end of May, said Melina Spadone, a lawyer for Rust Movie Productions. Shooting was suspended in October 2021 after Baldwin grabbed a revolver, killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza. Hutchins’ widower, Matthew Hutchins, is an executive producer on the film under a settlement he reached with the production to resolve a wrongful death claim.

“Production will continue to employ unionized crew members and will prohibit any use of working weapons and ammunition of any kind,” Spadone said in a statement. “Live ammunition is – and always was – prohibited on set.”

Prior to releasing its members for work on the production, the Directors Guild of America said in a statement that the group “pushed for extensive additional safety requirements, including dedicated safety personnel to assess risk and be present during production.”

SAG-AFTRA, which said in a statement that it has undergone “preliminary security clearance Rust”, also highlighted additional safety requirements on set, such as production excluding live ammunition and weapons capable of firing all types of ammunition, as well as the presence of union representatives in the field at production.

A spokesperson for the union added: “Two highly regarded industry safety veterans, a longtime stunt coordinator, oversee all aspects of safety as Set Safety Supervisors and will be on site throughout and available to us when required. “

Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed, who loaded the gun on the day of the shooting and were responsible for the guns on set, have pleaded not guilty to the charges. The actor has maintained that he did not pull the trigger on the gun that killed Hutchins, and that it went off on its own. Prosecutors alleged that Baldwin should have assumed the gun he was wielding was loaded with live rounds and that he knew that “the first rule of gun safety is never to point a gun at someone you don’t intend to shoot,” reads a statement of probable cause. He also allegedly “contributed or failed to mitigate or address multiple significant security violations,” including prior misfires, and furthered an unsafe set by hiring Gutierrez-Reed as the lead gunmaker.

Dave Halls, the first assistant director on Rust, who was responsible for security and handed the gun over to Baldwin, reached a plea deal on charges of negligent use of a deadly weapon. He was sentenced to six months probation.

April 20, 5:27 PM. Correction: An earlier version of this story, based on information provided by Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney, incorrectly stated that the charges against her will be dropped.

This story was originally published April 20 at 12:34 p.m

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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