Jury selection to begin in 'Rust' armorer's trial over set shooting
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SANTA FE, New Mexico (NewsNation) — Jury selection is set to begin Wednesday for Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer on the set of Alec Baldwin’s Western movie “Rust” who is facing charges of involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence in the shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

This trial marks one of the most significant legal proceedings in Hollywood’s extensive film industry.

Gutierrez-Reed has pleaded not guilty to the charges and maintains she’s not directly to blame for Hutchins’ death. Baldwin also has pleaded not guilty to an involuntary manslaughter charge in a separate case.

In October 2021, Baldwin was rehearsing a scene that involved drawing a weapon and pointing it toward the camera when a single round went through Hutchins, fatally wounding her. Director Joul Souza was injured in the shoulder.

Baldwin claimed the gun discharged when he took it out of the holster and denied firing it, while an FBI report stated it could only have fired if the trigger had been pulled.

Prosecutors claim Gutierrez-Reed loaded the .45-caliber revolver involved in the shooting and brought at least six live rounds onto the set. Additionally, the prosecution alleges the armorer drank alcohol, smoked marijuana and used cocaine during filming — sometimes even on set. Gutierrez-Reed allegedly attempted to conceal the drugs by passing them to a friend before investigators could find them.

Prosecutors say they’ll present evidence that Gutierrez-Reed loaded a live round into the gun that killed Hutchins after unknowingly bringing live ammunition onto a set where it was expressly prohibited. They contend the armorer missed multiple opportunities to ensure safety on the movie set.

“Hannah Gutierrez-Reed loaded it with a live round, she failed to check that these were all dummies,” said Santa Fe County special prosecutor Kari Morrissey.

Despite her job responsibilities, prosecutors said, Gutierrez-Reed failed to conduct proper safety checks and allowed other members of the crew access to the guns.

“The Gutierrez-Reed defense team is going to try to save their client,” New York City trial attorney Mercedes Colwin told NewsNation ahead of the trial. “How do they save their client? Focus the attention on Alec Baldwin, deflect all the attention on Gutierrez-Reed, and say Alec Baldwin was the one who pulled the trigger. Alec Baldwin didn’t pay attention during training.”

Gutierrez Reed claimed she was a victim of sabotage from disgruntled cast and crew members who wanted her fired. She claims they were the ones who actually snuck the live ammo into the box of blanks and dummies that were supposed to be used all along.

Gutierrez-Reed faces up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine if convicted of involuntary manslaughter. The evidence tampering charge stems from accusations she handed a small bag of possible narcotics to another crew member after the shooting to avoid detection by law enforcement.

More than 40 people are listed as witnesses during the trial that’s scheduled to run through March 6.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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