Written by Ashton Snyder on
 June 23, 2024

Alec Baldwin Facing Involuntary Manslaughter Trial, Despite Dismissal Request

Actor Alec Baldwin's criminal case will proceed to trial next month, marking a critical juncture in the legal proceedings surrounding the tragic death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Baldwin's legal team lost another attempt to dismiss the charges, with a trial now set for July 9, as Fox News reports.

Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer ruled against dismissing the involuntary manslaughter charges during a virtual hearing on Friday. Baldwin's defense had argued that FBI testing damaged the firearm at issue, which they claim impedes their ability to mount a proper defense.

The defense contended that Baldwin had no reason to suspect the gun contained a live round when it discharged, tragically killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza during a rehearsal for the film Rust. Despite these arguments, Judge Sommer found the reasoning insufficient to throw out the case.

Judge Rejects Baldwin's Argument Over Damaged Gun

Baldwin was rehearsing on the set of Rust on Oct. 21, 2021, when the firearm discharged. Baldwin has consistently maintained that he never pulled the trigger. An FBI expert, however, testified that the firearm seemed unlikely to discharge without the trigger being pulled.

Special prosecutor Erlinda Ocampo Johnson revealed that boom operator Zac Sneesby witnessed Baldwin pull the trigger, countering the actor's claim. "Mr. Sneesby specifically said he saw Mr. Baldwin pull the trigger," Johnson stated during the hearing.

Baldwin was not present during the virtual hearing in which his attorneys claimed the FBI had damaged the gun by striking it repeatedly, allegedly preventing a proper examination. This issue will be addressed further in another pending motion from Baldwin's legal team.

Prosecution's Effort to Compel Testimony Fails

The prosecution also suffered a setback as Judge Sommer denied their request to compel testimony from Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the set's armorer, who had mistakenly loaded the gun with live ammunition. Gutierrez-Reed has already been convicted of involuntary manslaughter for her role in Hutchins' death and is currently serving an 18-month sentence.

Gutierrez-Reed invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and has refused to cooperate with the prosecution. "It's pretty clear she does not intend to cooperate," Judge Sommer noted during the hearing, determining that there were no grounds to compel her testimony under immunity.

Prosecution's Claims of Baldwin's Reckless Behavior

The prosecution alleges that Baldwin displayed reckless behavior on set and neglected to adhere to safety protocols. They plan to assert that Baldwin exercised complete control over the set and acted in a boorish manner with staffers.

Prosecutors have revived charges against Baldwin by presenting further analysis of the firearm, after initially abandoning a manslaughter charge due to potential gun modifications and malfunctions. They argue that Baldwin's actions on the set reflected a disregard for established safety standards.

The hearing is scheduled to continue on Monday, where further details of the case will be examined in court. With the trial date set for July 9, both parties are preparing for a judicial battle that will scrutinize the events leading to Hutchins' death.

Baldwin, facing a maximum of 18 months in prison if convicted, maintains his innocence and has pleaded not guilty. With courtroom deliberations intensifying, the unfolding case underscores the tragic consequences of lapses in movie set safety.

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