Alec Baldwin will be charged with involuntary murder for the death of Halyna Hutchins, cinematographer on set of Rust.
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was the film’s armourer and was also responsible for weapons. Assistant director David Halls, however, has entered into a plea agreement to the negligent use of deadly weapons charge.
Hutchins died after a prop gun, held by Baldwin 64, was accidentally discharged during filming of the western in October 2021. Joel Souza, director of the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe (New Mexico), was also injured in the incident.
Baldwin’s lawyer stated that the decision “distorts Halyna’s tragic death and represents an awful miscarriage in justice”. He added: “We will fight those charges, and will win.”
Hutchins’ loved ones have welcomed the charges and said they hope that the justice system will “hold those who break the law accountable”.
Mary Carmack-Altwies, Santa Fe’s district lawyer, said that “No one is above law and everyone deserves justice”.
Andrea Reeb, special prosecutor, added that “Halyna Hutchins could still be alive today if any of these three people – Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, or David Halls – had done what they were supposed to. It’s as simple as that.
To investigate the case, prosecutor received $317,750 ($about PS282,900) extra funding.
After a long investigation that also involved the FBI, the decision to bring charges came three months after the Santa Fe sheriff’s Office received the final report about the shooting.
“The evidence clearly shows that there was a pattern criminal disregard for safety at Rust film sets.” “In New Mexico, there’s no place for film sets that don’t take our state’s commitment to gun safety or public safety seriously,” Ms Reeb stated.
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“We will fight and win”
Baldwin’s lawyer Luke Nikas stated in full: “This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins tragic death and constitutes a terrible miscarriage or justice.”
“Mr Baldwin did not believe that there was a live round in the gun or on the set. He relied upon the professionals who worked with him, who assured that the gun didn’t have live rounds. These charges will be fought and won’t be forgotten.
Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyer said that Hannah was, and always has been, deeply affected by the tragic accident. She did not involuntary murder. These charges stem from a flawed investigation and a misinterpretation of the facts.
“We will bring the whole truth to light, and we believe Hannah will be exonerated by a jury.”
The first sign that you are being charged with a crime
Although it has been more than a year since Halyna’s death, these charges have finally been announced. However, this is a significant step in the right direction for her family.
I spoke to many people who were on the set of the film, and they made complaints about the “total disregard” shown by one person for the safety and welfare of the cast and crew.
As the blame-and-counter-blame game played out, there have been many civil lawsuits and countersuits. This is not the first sign that there has been any criminal reckoning.
“Conscious disregard of human life”
Brian J Panish, a lawyer for Hutchins’ family stated: “We want the Santa Fe sheriff to conclude their thorough investigation and determine that charges of involuntary murder are warranted for Halyna Hutchins’ killing with conscious disregard for life.”
“Our independent investigation also supports the warranted charges. The family is comforted by the fact that in New Mexico, everyone is subject to the law. We support the charges and will cooperate fully with the prosecution. We hope that the justice system protects the public and holds those who violate the law accountable.
Three months ago, Baldwin and Rust’s production company settled a matter with Hutchins’ families for an undisclosed sum. This was in response to Matthew’s wrongful death suit. The film was announced that production would resume this year.
Other lawsuits were also filed in connection to the shooting.
Baldwin and Gutierrez–Reed will be “charged with the alternative” with two charges of manslaughter. This means that a jury would not only decide if they are guilty but also under what definition of involuntary murderer they are guilty.
Prosecutors stated that the first charge can be simply referred to as involuntary murder. However, for this to be proven, there must be underlying negligence. Involuntary manslaughter, a fourth-degree felony punishable by up 18 months imprisonment and a $5,000 fine (about P4,040), is under New Mexico law. This includes the misdemeanour of negligent use.
Involuntary murder in the commission of lawful acts is another charge. This requires evidence that more than negligence was involved. This fourth-degree felony can also be punished with up to 18 months imprisonment and a maximum $5,000 fine. Prosecutors stated that the charge comes with an additional penalty, because the firearm involved makes the crime punishable with a mandatory five-year sentence in prison.
Ms. Carmack-Altwies will file formal charges against Ms Reeb before the end January. Each defendant will receive a summons to appear in court either in person or virtually after the filing.
A preliminary hearing will follow the first appearance. This allows the special prosecutor and district attorney to present their cases in front of the judge. The judge will then decide if there is probable cause for the trial to proceed. Preliminary hearings can be scheduled within 60 days after charges are filed.
Prosecutors stated that no charges would be brought against Souza for his injuries.
They confirmed details of Halls’ plea deal and said that the terms included a suspended sentence as well as six months probation.