‘Rust’ armorer’s trial gives Alec Baldwin’s team a window into how his own trial could unfold

SANTA FE, N.M. — The trial and conviction of a movie gunmaker in connection with a fatal shooting on the set of the Western film ‘Rust’ has given Alec Baldwin and his legal team an unusual insight into how his own death trial might unfold.

A New Mexico jury deliberated less than three hours Wednesday before convicting gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez-Reed of involuntary manslaughter in the death of cameraman Halyna Hutchins. She was quickly taken into custody as she awaits sentencing and faces up to 18 months in prison.

Over the course of two weeks, Baldwin played a prominent role in testimony and closing arguments that highlighted his authority as co-producer and lead actor of “Rust.” Both the prosecution and defense in the Gutierrez-Reed trial parsed video footage of Baldwin before the fatal shooting for clues about firearm safety malfunctions.

Baldwin’s trial is scheduled for July and will involve the same judge and prosecutors, as well as many of the same witnesses. Baldwin has maintained that he pulled back the gun’s hammer, but not the trigger, and that the weapon fired, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

Seeing Gutierrez-Reed’s trial will be a boon for Baldwin and his legal team, said Emily D. Baker, a legal analyst and former deputy district attorney in Los Angeles who was not involved in the case but wrote it on the foot followed.

“They are in the incredible position of seeing this prosecutor in action, seeing how this judge works, and knowing exactly what these experts are going to say and how they are going to present to the jury,” Baker said Wednesday. “I don’t think Baldwin wants to try a case in this case, and I think his legal team will tell him that this is a very different case than the case against Hannah.”

A weapons expert for the prosecution in the Gutierrez-Reed case provided powerful testimony, Baker said. But the gun expert agreed with what Baldwin’s team has said all along: that it wasn’t his job to check the gun, Baker said.

Expert witness and film firearms consultant Bryan Carpenter testified that footage showed Baldwin firing blanks at a camera inside a “no-go” zone at close range, ignoring safety protocols while ordering crew members to quickly reload his revolver, and with a gun brandished like a weapon. pointing stick after the end of a scene. Another clip captures the sound of Baldwin firing a gun after a director shouts, “Cut!”

Investigators have found no video recordings of the shooting, which took place during a rehearsal in a makeshift church on Oct. 21, 2021, on a film set outside Santa Fe. But Gutierrez-Reed’s trial included previously undisclosed testimony from eyewitnesses to the shooting.

Those witnesses included Souza, who felt the shock of a bullet when he went inside to get a view of the camera monitor, but never saw the gun that shot him.

A camera dolly operator and assistant director Dave Halls also provided in-depth accounts of the revolver firing and its aftermath. Screenwriter Mamie Mitchell testified that the script did not call for Baldwin to point the gun.

“Alec Baldwin’s conduct and his lack of gun safety in that church on that day is something he will have to answer for,” prosecutor Kari Morrissey told Gutierrez-Reed in her closing argument. “Not with you and not today. That will be with a different jury, on a different day.”

Morrissey and co-counsel Jason Lewis presented the case against Baldwin to a grand jury in January and secured a single-felony indictment, which gives them two paths to prosecution. A recent analysis of the weapon gave them the chance to restart the case after an initial involuntary manslaughter charge against Baldwin was dismissed.

That analysis by Forensic Science Services in Arizona concluded that “the trigger had to be pulled or depressed sufficiently to release the fully cocked or retracted hammer of the evidence revolver.”

The author of an earlier FBI report on the weapon testified at the Gutierrez-Reed trial that the weapon arrived with all safety features in working order, and that the only way the revolver would fire with the hammer fully retracted was by pressing it hit with a hammer and break it.

Baldwin’s attorneys have shown no sign of compromise with special prosecutors appointed by Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, who is running for re-election and faces a Democratic primary challenge in June from a former officer of justice.

A fundraising message from Carmack-Altwies in February vowed justice for Hutchins and her family “regardless of who else is involved,” without mentioning Baldwin by name.

“No one avoids guilt because of fame, fortune or connections in my jurisdiction,” she wrote.

During Gutierrez-Reed’s trial last week, a prosecution witness stated the obvious when a prosecutor asked, “Is Mr. Baldwin on trial today?”

“It looks like he is a little bit, yeah,” said Ross Addiego, a crew member who witnessed the fatal shooting at close range and has sued Baldwin in civil court.

The lawsuit is one in a series of legal actions, including wrongful death claims filed by members of Hutchins’ family, centering on allegations that the defendants were lax with safety standards. Baldwin and other defendants have disputed these allegations.

Filming of “Rust” was moved to Montana after shooting in New Mexico, under an agreement with Hutchins’ widower, Matthew Hutchins, that made him executive producer.


Dalton reported from Los Angeles.