Entertainment

Alec Baldwin’s manslaughter trial set to begin in New Mexico

Nearly three years after the shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film “Rust” in New Mexico, actor Alec Baldwin is set to stand trial.

Baldwin is charged with involuntary manslaughter for his role in the fatal incident that also injured the film’s director, Joel Souza.

Jury selection for Baldwin’s criminal trial begins Tuesday. It is not yet known whether the actor will testify.

Actor Alec Baldwin is treated after the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins at Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico on October 21, 2022.Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office via AFP – Getty Images file

How did we get here?

Baldwin rehearsed with a toy gun for a scene on October 21, 2021, at Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe County, New Mexico when the gunshot rang out, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

Baldwin has claimed in numerous interviews that he did not pull the trigger and that the shot misfired. Baldwin told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that he was following Hutchins’ instructions and pulled the hammer back as far as he could without cocking it. But in 2022, FBI test results on the Colt .45-caliber propeller revolver showed that the shot would not have been fired without the trigger being pulled.

Last month, Baldwin’s lawyers asked the judge to dismiss the case, saying the gun was severely damaged during forensic testing at the FBI lab, but the request was denied.

Filming for “Rust” at Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, NM on October 23, 2021.Jae C. Hong/AP File

Twists and turns

Baldwin was initially charged with involuntary manslaughter and use of a firearm. But the firearm charge was eventually dropped, reducing his potential prison sentence by five years.

In March 2023, Special Prosecutor Andrea Reed resigned after it was determined she could not oversee the case because, as a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives, she was disqualified under state law. But it didn’t stop there. Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies resigned from the case and appointed special prosecutors Kari T. Morrissey and Jason Lewis.

The following month, charges against Baldwin were dropped, with prosecutors citing “new facts in the case.” “We will therefore be dropping the manslaughter charges against Mr. Baldwin to conduct a more thorough investigation,” prosecutors said in a statement at the time. “This decision does not absolve Mr. Baldwin of criminal responsibility, and charges may be refiled.”

Halyna Hutchins on January 28, 2019, in Park City, Utah.File Fred Hayes / Getty Images

Over the next few months, Morrissey and Lewis continued to review evidence and interview witnesses. In October 2023, two sources told NBC News that Baldwin and the special prosecutors had discussed the possibility of reaching a plea deal, but that it was canceled, and prosecutors intended to take Baldwin’s case to a grand jury. Three months later, Baldwin was indicted by a New Mexico grand jury on one count of involuntary manslaughter.

Baldwin’s attorneys, Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro, responded: “We look forward to our day in court.”

Following the actor’s indictment in January, SAG-AFTRA, the union representing more than 150,000 actors, issued a statement criticizing prosecutors’ decision to re-indict him.

Gunsmith sentenced to prison

At the time of the initial charges against Baldwin, the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who oversaw the weapons on set, was also charged with involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence. She was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in April and is currently serving an 18-month prison sentence.

Gutierrez-Reed has been called to testify at Baldwin’s upcoming trial, but she asserted her Fifth Amendment right not to answer any questions about Baldwin during her pretrial interview in May. It’s unclear whether she will testify if called.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed watches her father, Thell Reed, leave the podium after asking the judge not to impose a prison sentence on his daughter on April 15.Eddie Moore/Pool via AP

Meanwhile, Dave Halls, the assistant director on the set who pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of careless use of a deadly weapon and was sentenced to six months of unsupervised probation, is expected to testify. In interviews, Baldwin claimed that Halls said the gun was “cold,” meaning it contained no live ammunition, before it was handed to Baldwin.

But prosecutors accused Baldwin of presenting conflicting versions of events to law enforcement and the media about whether he pulled the trigger and whether he followed Hutchins’ instructions.

“In short, every time Mr. Baldwin spoke, a different version of events came out of his mouth,” a court filing this spring by the special prosecutors said.

Baldwin’s trial is expected to last about two weeks.

Gn entert
News Source : www.nbcnews.com

Eleon

With a penchant for words, Eleon Smith began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, Smith landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, Eleon also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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