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‘Rust’ defense prepares motion to dismiss manslaughter case

An image of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who died after being shot by Alec Baldwin on the set of his movie “Rust,” is displayed during a vigil in her honor in Albuquerque, New Mexico, October 23, 2021 .

Kevin Mohatt | Reuters

Defense attorneys for original “Rust” gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez-Reed plan to file a motion within the next two weeks to dismiss the criminal charges against her, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“Rust” star and producer Alec Baldwin is also charged in the case. If approved, the motion to dismiss on behalf of Gutierrez-Reed would not automatically drop the charges against Baldwin, according to another person familiar with the matter.

Both people declined to be named due to the sensitive nature of the proceedings.

Baldwin’s attorneys could not be reached for comment.

Baldwin, known for his roles in ‘The Hunt for Red October’ and ‘Beetlejuice,’ and Gutierrez-Reed each face two counts of manslaughter for the fatal on-set shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in October 2021. Baldwin, who has pleaded not guilty, was holding the gun that fired the bullet that killed Hutchins. Gutierrez-Reed also pleaded not guilty, according to the district attorney.

A jury will decide which count of manslaughter applies in this case. Either count carries sentences of up to 18 months.

The motion to dismiss would follow a series of missteps by Santa Fe prosecutors handling the case. More recently, The New York Times reported that the case’s former special prosecutor, Andrea Reeb, suggested in a June 9, 2022 email that working on the case might help her in her political career.

“At some point, though, I’d like to at least say I’m helping you…because it might help my campaign lol,” Reeb said in an email to New Mexico’s First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack. -Altwies, the Times reported on Tuesday.

“I plan to feature you or send it out in a press release when we have the investigation!” Carmack-Altwies responded. The prosecutor’s office did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Reeb was named special prosecutor in August, and she was elected to the New Mexico legislature last fall. She resigned as special prosecutor last week after Baldwin’s defense team sought to disqualify her. Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys co-signed that motion. They argued that her work on the case violated the New Mexico constitution since she simultaneously served as prosecutor and legislator.

Following the release of the emails, Baldwin’s attorneys said in court filings on Tuesday that they now reserve the future right to argue that “Reeb has charged the case with furthering his political career.” They added that this was “a further abuse of the system and another violation of Mr. Baldwin’s constitutional rights”.

Alec Baldwin on October 7, 2021 at the Hamptons International Film Festival.

Marc Sagliocco | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

In response to Baldwin’s court claims, Reeb told CNBC that the manslaughter charges “were not politically motivated.”

“I was already elected by the time the charging decisions were made. Mr. Baldwin’s attorneys continue to deflect their client’s situation onto everyone else… ignoring Mr. Baldwin’s own responsibility for his actions,” Reeb added.

The prosecution had also dropped a so-called ‘gun-strengthening’ charge, which carries a mandatory five-year prison sentence, after Baldwin’s defense pointed out the law was not in effect. at the time of the shooting.

Additionally, the DA’s office has made a series of impassioned public statements that some attorneys believe could bias a jury against Baldwin. For example, after the firearms enhancement charge was dropped, the prosecutor’s office spokesman said, “The prosecution’s priority is to secure justice, not to obtain billable hours for big city lawyers.”

The district attorney’s office has yet to announce who will take over as special prosecutor from Reeb in the case, but Baldwin’s attorneys also said they reserve the right to challenge the future appointment.

Baldwin and other producers of the film are also the subject of a civil lawsuit filed by Hutchins’ mother, father and sister.

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