As expected, Alec Baldwin was charged on Tuesday with involuntary manslaughter in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of “Rust.”
Hannah Reed Gutierrez, the film’s armorer, was also charged with involuntary manslaughter. Both are accused of acting with criminal negligence that resulted in Hutchins’ death.
Mary Carmack-Altwies, the elected prosecutor in Santa Fe, N.M., announced on Jan. 19 that she would file the charges. Baldwin and Reed Gutierrez each face up to 18 months in prison if convicted, plus a potential five-year enhancement for the use of a firearm.
Baldwin was preparing for a scene when his Colt .45 fired on Oct. 21, 2021, killing Hutchins and wounding the film’s director, Joel Souza. Baldwin has claimed that he did not pull the trigger, though an FBI analysis found that the gun was working normally.
The gun was supposed to contain only dummy rounds, but somehow a live round was mixed in. Gutierrez Reed loaded the gun. Prosecutors have alleged that each failed to take proper safety precautions, and that Hutchins would be alive if they had done their jobs correctly.
Attorneys for both defendants have asserted their innocence and predicted that they will be exonerated in court.
“This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice,” Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas, said when the charges were announced. “We will fight these charges and we will win.”
Gutierrez Reed’s attorneys said the investigation was “very flawed.”
“We intend to bring the full truth to light and believe Hannah will be exonerated of wrongdoing by a jury,” they said.
David Halls, the first assistant director, has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of negligent use of a weapon. Under the plea agreement, he will get a suspended sentence and serve six months of probation.
Gutierrez Reed and Baldwin must make a “first appearance” in New Mexico court — though that can be done remotely. They have a right to a preliminary hearing within 60 days, at which point the government must show enough evidence to take the case to trial.
Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed have blamed each other — as well as others — for the shooting. Gutierrez Reed has faulted Baldwin for failing to pay attention during her weapons training session. Baldwin meanwhile has filed a countersuit against Gutierrez Reed, in which his attorneys blame her for failing to detect the live round.
Involuntary manslaughter is a fourth-degree felony in New Mexico. To prove the charges, prosecutors must demonstrate that the defendants’ actions were “reckless, wanton or willful” — meaning that they were aware of the danger and ignored it.
The shooting has led to five civil suits, which could be put on hold now that criminal proceedings are underway.
Hutchins’ widower, Matthew Hutchins, agreed in October to settle his family’s suit against Baldwin and the “Rust” production, which would allow production to resume. But his case remains active and no settlement notice has yet been filed.
One of his attorneys, Randi McGinn, told a judge on Monday that the talks are still ongoing. McGinn was in court to oppose a motion to consolidate the Hutchins family case with a lawsuit filed by the set medic, Cherlyn Schaefer. McGinn argued that doing so would diminish the value of the Hutchins’ family’s suit.
“We are in the middle of very complicated settlement negotiations,” McGinn said. Consolidating the cases, she said, “would be disastrous for the progress of where we are in the process of our particular case.”
The judge denied the motion to consolidate, and also denied two defendants’ motions to dismiss Schaefer’s suit.