‘Rust’ shooting trial: Pretrial hearing sets stage for Alec Baldwin’s arrival in court

A New Mexico judge ruled Monday that actor Alec Baldwin His role as co-producer is not relevant in the involuntary manslaughter trial following a fatal shooting on the set of the western film “Rust.”

Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer ruled that evidence regarding Baldwin’s supporting role in the film would not be allowed at trial, siding with defense attorneys.

“I really have a hard time with the state’s position that as a producer he didn’t follow the guidelines and therefore as an actor Mr. Baldwin did all these things that resulted in Ms. Hutchins’ death because as a producer he allowed those things to happen,” Marlowe Sommer said. “I deny any evidence that he was a producer.”

Special prosecutor Erlinda Johnson unsuccessfully sought to admit evidence that Baldwin’s “role as a producer made him acutely aware of his on-set responsibilities” regarding security.

“Mr. Baldwin knows that his conduct on set was negligent,” she said.

On Monday, Baldwin sat in court between lead attorneys Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro, briefly flipping through documents with a yellow legal pad in front of him, wearing glasses and his hair cropped short.

The trial begins On July 9, the jury selection will take place and the expected duration will be 10 days.

Last week, the judge cleared the way for firearms experts key to the prosecution to testify about how Baldwin handled the gun and whether the weapon was functioning properly before the fatal shooting.

Prosecutors argued that a state workplace safety investigation that found serious violations on the set was incomplete, unreliable and should be excluded from the trial.

This aerial photo shows the set of the movie “Rust,” at Bonanza Creek Ranch, Oct. 23, 2021, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Baldwin is charged with a single count of involuntary manslaughter, which carries a possible sentence of up to 18 months in prison if convicted.

THE three-time Emmy winner He went from star and leading man to supporting actor to scene-stealer, sometimes going years without a major role in a hit movie or TV show. But he remained a household name for nearly 35 years, thanks in large part to his real-life persona: as an outspoken liberal, a talk-show host and the king of all hosts on “Saturday Night Live.”

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the on-set gunsmith, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was sentenced to 18 months in prison. She has appealed her sentence.

In October 2021, Baldwin was rehearsing a cross-draw maneuver with the revolver when the gun went off, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

Baldwin has pleaded not guilty and claims the gun was fired accidentally after he followed instructions to point it at Hutchins, who was behind the cameraUnaware that the gun contained a live round, Baldwin said he pulled the hammer – not the trigger – and the shot fired.


In this image from video released by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, Alec Baldwin speaks with investigators after a fatal shooting on a movie set in Santa Fe, New Mexico. (Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office via AP, File)

Baldwin’s lawyers also want to bar any discussion at trial of the death of actor Brandon Lee, who was fatally shot in the abdomen while filming a scene for “The Crow” in 1993. In that case, a a bullet was mistakenly left in a firearm from a previous scene and struck Lee during the filming of a scene that required the use of blanks.

Prosecutors have agreed not to bar testimony about “The Crow,” but they also argue that Baldwin was aware of the risks posed by firearms, even without live ammunition. Baldwin’s lawyers argue that it was inconceivable that live ammunition would have ended up on the set.

Prosecutors want to exclude a letter signed by crew members that disputes characterizations of the “Rust” set as chaotic or dangerous before the fatal shooting.

Prosecutors also want to exclude from trial the findings of the security investigation into the fatal shooting, which places much of the blame on Deputy Director Dave Halls. Halls has pleaded not guilty to careless use of a firearm and could be called to testify at Baldwin’s trial.

Rust Film Productions paid a $100,000 fine to resolve violations of state safety regulations that were characterized as “serious” but unintentional, under a 2023 settlement agreement. Prosecutors say the investigation’s findings are easily contradicted by more reliable information.

Baldwin’s attorneys say the report cannot be excluded as evidence and that state occupational safety officer Lorenzo Montoya should be allowed to testify at trial.

Another preliminary motion could ease tensions between the prosecution and defense teams. Prosecutors want the judge to dismiss charges of “prosecutory misconduct” and “personal attacks.”

Prosecutors also want the judge to exclude evidence and arguments intended to elicit sympathy for Baldwin, including indications of remorse or the impact of the events on his family, arguing that it has no bearing on determining guilt.

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News Source : apnews.com


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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