Alec Baldwin will be charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust.
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the film’s armorer, who was responsible for the weapons on set, faces the same charge, while assistant director David Halls signed a plea bargain on charges of negligent use of a deadly weapon.
Hutchins42 died after a propeller gun held by BaldwinThe 64-year-old actor was discharged during rehearsals for the western in October 2021. Director Joel Souza was also injured in the incident on the Bonanza Creek Ranch set in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Baldwin’s lawyer said the verdict “distorts the tragic death of Halyna Hutchins and represents a horrific fall of justice,” adding: “We will fight these charges and we will win.”
Hutchins’ family welcomed the accusations, saying they hope the justice system works to “hold those who break the law to account”.
“No one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice,” Santa Fe district attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said when making the announcement.
Special prosecutor Andrea Reeb added: “Halyna Hutchins would be alive today if one of these three people – Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or David Halls – had done their job. It’s that simple.”
Prosecutors were given $317,750 (approximately £282,900) in extra funding to investigate the high-profile case.
The verdict on the charges came nearly three months after the Santa Fe sheriff’s office received the final report of the shooting after a lengthy investigation involving the FBI.
“The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal negligence to safety on the Rust movie set. There is no place in New Mexico for movie sets that don’t take our state’s commitment to gun safety and public safety seriously,” Ms. Reeb said.
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‘We will fight and we will win’
Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas, said in a full statement: “This ruling distorts the tragic death of Halyna Hutchins and represents a horrific fall in justice.
“Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there were live bullets in the gun – or anywhere on the movie set. He trusted the professionals he worked with, who assured him that there were no live bullets in the gun. We will fight these charges, and we will win.”
A lawyer for Gutierrez-Reed said: “Hannah has always been very emotional and upset about this tragic accident.
“We intend to bring the full truth to light and we believe Hannah will be cleared of wrongdoing by a jury.”
‘Conscious disregard for human life’
In a statement on behalf of Hutchins’ family, attorney Brian J Panish said: “We want to thank the Santa Fe sheriff and district attorney for concluding their thorough investigations and concluding that the manslaughter charges for the murder of Halyna Hutchins are justified. counting
“Our independent investigation also supports that the accusations are justified. It is a consolation to the family that nobody is above the law in New Mexico. We support the charges, we will cooperate fully with this prosecution, and we hope the justice system works vigorously. Protect the public and hold lawbreakers accountable.”
The indictment came three months after the Baldwin and Rust production company. agreed upon Following a wrongful death lawsuit filed by her husband, Matthew, Hutchins’ family announced for an undisclosed sum and that the film would resume production later this year.
Other lawsuits have also been filed in connection with the armed attack.
What will happen now?
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will be “alternatively charged” with double manslaughter, meaning a jury will decide not only whether they’re guilty but also guilty or not guilty according to what definition of manslaughter they are.
Prosecutors said the initial charge could simply be called manslaughter, and that there had to be underlying negligence before it could be proven. Under New Mexico law, manslaughter is a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 (approximately £4,040) fine. This charge also includes a misdemeanor charge of negligent use of a firearm.
The other charge is manslaughter during the commission of a lawful act, which requires proof of more than simple negligence. This is also a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. However, prosecutors said the charge includes an additional penalty – for using a firearm – making the crime a mandatory five-year prison sentence.
Ms. Carmack-Altwies and Ms. Reeb will formally file criminal charges before the end of January. After filing, each defendant will be summoned to appear in court for the first time, either in person or virtually.
Following the initial hearing, a preliminary hearing will be held before the judge for the district attorney and special prosecutor to present their cases. The judge then decides whether there is a probable reason to proceed with a trial. Preliminary hearings are usually scheduled within 60 days of filing the charges.
Prosecutors said no charges would be brought in relation to Souza’s injuries.
Confirming the details of Halls’ plea deal, they said the terms included a suspended sentence and six months’ probation.