First Rust Trial Backs Up a Key Point for Alec Baldwin

Armorer expert says it wasn't Baldwin's job to check the safety of the gun
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 7, 2024 11:28 AM CST
First Rust Trial May Give Alec Baldwin an Advantage
"Rust" movie armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, center, talks with her defense team during her involuntary manslaughter trial on Tuesday in court in Santa Fe, New Mexico.   (Jim Weber/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP, Pool)

The trial and conviction of a movie armorer in connection with a fatal shooting on the set of the Western movie Rust has given Alec Baldwin and his legal team an unusual window into how his own trial could unfold. A New Mexico jury deliberated less than three hours Wednesday before convicting armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed of involuntary manslaughter in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Baldwin's trial is scheduled for July and will involve the same judge and prosecutors, as well as many of the same witnesses. "They're in the incredible position of getting to watch this prosecutor in action, see how this judge works, and come in knowing exactly what these experts are going to say and how they present to the jury," said Emily D. Baker, a former Los Angeles deputy district attorney.

  • A weapons expert for the prosecution in Gutierrez-Reed's case gave strong testimony, Baker said. But the armorer expert was aligned with what Baldwin's team has been saying all along—that it wasn't his job to check the weapon, Baker said. Baldwin has maintained that he pulled back the gun's hammer but not the trigger, and the weapon fired, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.
  • Still, expert witness and movie firearms consultant Bryan Carpenter testified that images showed Baldwin firing blanks toward a camera within a "no-go" zone at close range, flouting safety protocols as he commanded crew members to quickly reload his revolver, and waving a gun like a pointing stick after the close of one scene. Another clip captures the sound of Baldwin firing a gun after a director calls out "Cut!" And script writer Mamie Mitchell testified that the script didn't call for Baldwin to point the gun.
  • "Alec Baldwin's conduct and his lack of gun safety inside that church on that day is something that he's going to have to answer for," prosecutor Kari Morrissey said in her closing arguments against Gutierrez-Reed. "Not with you and not today. That'll be with another jury, on another day."
  • Defense attorneys for Baldwin have shown no sign of compromise with prosecutors in his involuntary manslaughter case, and that might continue. "I don't think Baldwin's going to want to deal in this case, and I think his legal team will tell him this is a very different case than the case against Hannah," said Baker.
(More Alec Baldwin stories.)

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