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Hannah Gutierrez-Reed: Rust armourer sentenced to 18 months for Halyna Hutchins’ death

  • By Samantha Granville in Los Angeles and Helen Bushby
  • BBC News

Video caption, Watch: Rust Gunsmith Gutierrez-Reed Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the on-set gun handler who loaded a gun for actor Alec Baldwin before shooting and killing a cinematographer, was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

She was found not guilty of a second charge – tampering with evidence – relating to the 2021 shooting of Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust.

The sentence handed down by Gutierrez-Reed is the maximum sentence possible.

Mr Baldwin, 65, will also face a trial for manslaughter in July. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer, who handed down the sentence Monday in a New Mexico court, said Gutierrez-Reed’s actions constituted a serious and violent offense, committed in a physically violent manner.

“You alone have transformed a safe weapon into a deadly weapon,” Judge Sommer said, addressing the gunsmith. “Without you, Mrs. Hutchins would be alive. A husband would have his partner and a little boy would have his mother.”

Ms. Hutchins, 42, was killed after a gun used by Mr. Baldwin during a rehearsal fired live ammunition on the set of the Western in New Mexico.

Prosecutors said Gutierrez-Reed failed to ensure the gun was loaded only with dummy bullets — fake bullets used to look and sound like the real thing.

“This case involves consistent and relentless failures of safety that resulted in the death of a human being,” prosecutor Kari T Morrissey said during closing arguments in the trial.

Gutierrez-Reed was “careless”, “careless” and “thoughtless” when she failed to notice that live bullets had mixed with dummy bullets in an ammunition box on set, Ms Morrissey told the jurors.

One of those bullets was in the gun used by Mr. Baldwin, prosecutors said.

Jurors deliberated for three hours before returning their verdict in March. Ms Hutchins’ parents and her sister said they were “pleased” with the verdict.

Their statement added: “We hope that the justice system continues to ensure that everyone else responsible for Halyna’s death is held to face the legal consequences of their actions.”

Image source, Getty Images

Legend, Halyna Hutchins was killed while on set in 2021

Before she was sentenced, Gutierrez Reed addressed the court, saying her heart ached for Hutchins’ family and friends.

“The jury found me guilty. That doesn’t make me a monster. It makes me human,” she said through tears.

But Judge Sommer said she felt the gunsmith did not take responsibility for his actions. “I didn’t hear you take responsibility,” the judge said.

Ms Hutchins’ mother and sister also spoke in videos recorded from their native kyiv, Ukraine. The mother, Olga Solovey, said in a translated video that no one involved in her daughter’s death ever expressed sympathy.

“It is very important to me that justice is done,” she said.

Video caption, WATCH: Bodycam footage of the aftermath of the Rust shooting

During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Gutierrez-Reed brought a box of live ammunition to the New Mexico film set from his California home. They said these live rounds slowly spread across the entire plateau over 12 days.

Ms Morrissey said she believed the gunsmith did not intend to bring live ammunition to the set, but rather that Ms Hutchins’ death was a case of tragic negligence.

The prosecutor added that Gutierrez-Reed was more “worried about her career” and less about the victims following the shooting.

Gutierrez-Reed did not testify during the two-week trial, but his lawyer said in closing arguments that prosecutors failed to prove that his client was solely responsible for the fatal shooting.

“The (ammunition) boxes don’t matter, because we don’t know what was in them three or four days ago,” his lawyer, Jason Bowles, told the jury, arguing that his client did not know that there were real bullets on the board. .

Mr Bowles also blamed Mr Baldwin, arguing he had “deviated from the script” when he pointed his gun at the film crew. “It was not planned in the script for Mr. Baldwin to point the gun,” he said. “She didn’t know Mr. Baldwin was going to do what he did.”

Bowles had promised to appeal the guilty verdict.

Gutierrez-Reed was found not guilty of tampering with evidence following accusations that she tried to dispose of a small bag of narcotics after the shooting.

Last year, the film’s cast and crew completed filming as a tribute to Ms. Hutchins, with her husband serving as executive producer.

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