Written by Ashton Snyder on
 May 26, 2024

Alec Baldwin to Face Trial in July Over 'Rust' Set Death of Halyna Hutchins

A New Mexico judge has ruled that Alec Baldwin will stand trial for involuntary manslaughter in July, stemming from the tragic death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the film set of Rust. Baldwin's trial, set for July, could result in an 18-month prison sentence if he is found guilty.

Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer denied a motion to dismiss the case on Friday, adhering to the arguments presented by prosecutor Kari Morrissey, as the Daily Mail reports.

Arguments Presented and Denied by Judge

Baldwin's legal representatives, Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro, argued that crucial evidence was omitted during the grand jury proceedings held in January. They contended that some defense witnesses were unavailable during the hearing, which took place on May 17, 2024, in Santa Fe. Nevertheless, Judge Sommer upheld the grand jury's decision, emphasizing that they had access to a defense letter and chose not to act on it.

Morrissey argued that Baldwin, as an actor, had an inherent responsibility to ensure the safety of the firearm he was handling. This statement was pivotal in refuting Baldwin's claims of innocence regarding his role in the October 2021 incident that not only claimed Hutchins' life but also injured director Joel Souza.

Previous Settlements and Plea Deals

In 2022, Baldwin settled a civil lawsuit with Hutchins' husband, Matthew Hutchins, who subsequently became an executive producer of Rust. This allowed the film's production to continue in Montana. Despite this, legal battles over the incident persist, as Baldwin also navigates accusations of prosecutorial misconduct and the improper handling of the firearm evidence by Santa Fe County D.A.’s office.

The prosecutor’s alleged failures include the controversial decisions to rig the jury process and not presenting complete evidence from an FBI test. During the upcoming trial, these claims and decisions will likely come under closer scrutiny.

Safety Concerns and Prior Sentencing

The chaotic nature of the Rust set has also been a subject of concern. Safety failures led to a $136,000 fine for the film's production. Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the Rust armorer, received an 18-month prison sentence for her role in Hutchins' death, despite her being referred to as a "scapegoat" for wider safety failings by her legal team. An expert noted that her sentencing might negatively impact Baldwin’s case.

Baldwin's legal team has been vocal about what they perceive as injustice within the prosecution process. They have filed multiple motions, including one in November seeking sanctions against prosecutor Morrissey for reportedly leaking grand jury information and other conduct they deemed inappropriate. These moves come amid an environment of intense public and legal scrutiny.

Expert Opinions and Baldwin's Defense

Sommer postponed additional grand jury proceedings back in November, pushing them to January. This decision came amid accusations that vital evidence, including the FBI's gun test results, had not been adequately reviewed by the grand jury.

During Gutierrez-Reed’s trial, conflicting evidence arose regarding the gun’s functionality, raising further questions about Baldwin's claims. The set's conditions and the overall safety protocols have been intensely debated, with differing opinions on Baldwin's role.

Attorney Bowles, representing Gutierrez-Reed, sharply criticized the safety practices on set and Baldwin's handling of the weapon. He accused Baldwin of making the set unsafe by waving a gun inappropriately.

Conclusion of the Ongoing Legal Drama

As Baldwin’s scheduled July trial approaches, the actor continues to assert his lack of responsibility in the tragic event. The court battle promises to revisit various facets of the incident, from the chaotic set environment to the alleged prosecutorial failings and the expert opinions on the firearm used.

Baldwin’s legal team, undeterred, awaits their moment in court to argue their case. As tensions rise, the July trial is expected to be a focal point of legal and public interest, providing closure for some and enduring questions for others.

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About Ashton Snyder

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