Armorer of ‘Rust’ To Face Gun Charges Monday, as Prosecutors Work Behind the Scenes To Bring New Charges Against Baldwin

‘Rust’ armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed will face unrelated gun charges Monday.

AP/Seth Wenig, file
Alec Baldwin has been charged again in the deadly accident on the set of his movie 'Rust.' AP/Seth Wenig, file

On Monday, the armorer charged with involuntary manslaughter in the firearms death of a cinematographer on the set of the movie “Rust,” Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, will be arraigned on unrelated gun charges. Meanwhile, New Mexico prosecutors plan to ask a grand jury to consider new charges against the movie’s star, Alec Baldwin, after prosecutors dropped the original charges.

Ms. Gutierrez-Reed is facing a charge in New Mexico for unlawfully carrying a firearm into a bar in October 2021, a charge that Ms. Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney has called part of a “smear campaign.”

“The special prosecutor has now resorted to charging Hannah Gutierrez-Reed with another offense not tied to the ‘Rust’ set or remotely related to it. Next week it will probably be something else they will dream up,” Ms. Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney, Jason Bowles, said in a statement.

Mr. Bowles added that the prosecution is “a complete smear campaign against Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and an attempt by the prosecutor to get any conviction possible because its ‘Rust’-related charges against Hannah are so weak.”

In January, Ms. Gutierrez-Reed was charged with involuntary manslaughter relating to the shooting death of the “Rust” cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, in October 2021.

Initially, the star of the Western who was holding the gun when it fired, Mr. Baldwin, was also charged with involuntary manslaughter. Mr. Baldwin, though, maintains that he did not pull the trigger and that he was told the gun was not loaded with live ammunition.

The special prosecutor who first handled the case, Andrea Reeb, stepped down from under pressure from Mr. Baldwin’s lawyers, who said that Ms. Reeb was violating New Mexico’s constitution by both serving in the state legislature and prosecuting Mr. Baldwin.

In March, the district attorney, Mary Carmack-Altwies, recused herself from the case in order to appoint two new special prosecutors,  Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis.

In April, the new special prosecutors dropped manslaughter charges against Mr. Baldwin, citing the need to investigate further, noting they might seek to bring charges in the future. 

Prosecutors initially dismissed the charges based on an analysis of evidence that suggested that the gun might have been modified in order to allow it to fire without the trigger being pulled.

The gun that killed Hutchins was not supposed to have had live ammunition in it on set. Although Mr. Baldwin maintains he did not pull the trigger, the original prosecuting team argued that recordings and photographs from the set show Mr. Baldwin with his finger on the trigger.

In October, Ms. Morrissey and Mr. Lewis announced that they intended to ask a grand jury to recharge Mr. Baldwin, saying that they had reviewed an updated analysis of the firearm that found that the gun had not been modified.

“We believe that based on our lengthy and detailed investigation that it is appropriate for a grand jury in New Mexico to make a decision on whether the case should proceed,” the special prosecutor, Ms. Morrissey, said in a statement.

How prosecutors plan to win a conviction against Mr. Baldwin, who’s been adamant that he was merely an actor filming a shoot-out who was told his gun did not contain live ammunition, remains unclear. Mr. Baldwin’s attorneys, Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro, said in a statement that they “will answer any charges in court” and that it “unfortunate that a terrible tragedy has been turned into this misguided prosecution.”

The grand jury was supposed to convene earlier this month, but the event was rescheduled, according to NBC News. If manslaughter charges are brought against Mr. Baldwin and he is convicted, he could face up to 18 months in prison.

In June, Hutchins’s husband, Matthew Hutchins, settled a wrongful death suit against Mr. Baldwin and other “Rust” producers. Production of the film started again in the spring with Mr. Hutchins as an executive producer.

“All of us believe Halyna’s death was a terrible accident,” Mr. Hutchins said in a statement after the settlement. “I am grateful that the producers and the entertainment community have come together to pay tribute to Halyna’s final work.”

As prosecutors work toward bringing charges against Mr. Baldwin in the case, Ms. Gutierrez-Reed’s manslaughter trial, which is separate from the charges she faces over bringing a gun to a bar, is set to begin in late February. She has pleaded not guilty.

The New York Sun

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