Prosecutors hinted at new revelations in the investigation while also warning that Baldwin has yet to be exonerated in the deadly filming case.
SANTA FE, NM — Prosecutors have formally denied the charge of involuntary manslaughter against Alec Baldwin in the 2021 shooting death of a cinematographer on the set of the Western film “Rust,” citing by new evidence and need more time to investigate.
In a stunning turnaround for the 65-year-old A-list actor, special prosecutors Kari Morrisey and Jason Lewis filed a notice dismissing the sole charge against Baldwin on Friday in District Court of the United States. state in Santa Fe. Prosecutors said the investigation is ongoing.
The charge of involuntary manslaughter against Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the firearms supervisor in the film, is unchanged.
An online hearing was scheduled for Friday afternoon in the state District Court in the case against Gutierrez-Reed. Baldwin’s participation in the hearing was dropped without any charges against him.
Friday’s court filing echoes initial statements from prosecutors that new facts have been revealed in an investigation that requires further investigation and forensic analysis, with little time left. before the evidence hearings are scheduled to begin on May 3.
On Thursday, special prosecutors said that “the decision was not to release Mr. Baldwin from criminal liability and the charges may be re-submitted.” They declined to comment further.
Kate Mangels, a Los Angeles-based entertainment defense and litigation attorney who was not involved in the “Rust” case, said the opportunity to further charge Baldwin is shrinking.
“If they don’t have the evidence right now, I don’t know what evidence they might be able to gather or develop. … It seems they had 30 people on the witness list, a cooperating witness (co-defendant), investigations carried out by multiple law enforcement agencies. Looks like this has been pretty well investigated. I can’t imagine what it would take to bring new charges.”
Baldwin’s attorneys were the first to announce that prosecutors were changing course, in an abrupt turnaround for the Hollywood luminary, who just months ago was facing potential prosecution. sentenced to many years in prison.
Baldwin was pointing a pistol at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal when the gun fired, killing her and injuring director Joel Souza.
Baldwin said the gun accidentally fired and he didn’t pull the trigger. However, an FBI forensic report found that the weapon failed to fire unless the trigger was pulled.
In March, David Halls, safety coordinator and assistant director of “Rust,” pleaded not guilty to a conviction for unsafe gun handling and a suspended sentence of six months of probation. He agreed to cooperate to further investigate the deadly shooting.
A lawyer for Halls said Friday that he is happy for Baldwin and wishes the Hutchins family all the best.
“Mr. Halls never believed that Mr. Baldwin should be charged. Defense attorney Lisa Torraco said in an email that it was a tragic accident that is best resolved out of criminal court.
When the manslaughter charges were announced in January, Santa Fe County Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said the case was about equal justice under the law and accountability in Hutchins’ death, regardless of identity. reputation or property of the persons involved. She said the Ukrainian-born cinematographer’s death was a tragedy — and preventable.
A new legal team took over the prosecution of Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed in late March, after the special prosecutor originally appointed in the case resigned.
John Day, a Santa Fe-based criminal defense attorney who was not involved in the case, said the dismissal of charges against Baldwin, who is also a “Rust” co-producer, abruptly changed. duration of the investigation.
“That gives the impression that the rest of the people holding the bag are the lowest in that chain,” Day said.
When the layoffs were announced, Baldwin was at the Yellowstone Film Ranch on the set of the rebooted Rust movie, a representative for Rust Movie Productions said. Filming preparations are underway at the film’s new location in Montana, 18 months after filming ceased.
Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys said they fully expect her to be exonerated during the trial.
“The truth about what happened will be revealed and the questions we have long sought answers for,” attorneys Jason Bowles and Todd Bullion said in a statement.
Before Friday’s dismissal, the case against Baldwin had subsided. In February, the increase in weapons for manslaughter was abolished, reducing the maximum prison sentence from five years to 18 months.
Baldwin’s 40-year career includes his first blockbuster film “The Hunt for Red October” and a starring role in the sitcom “30 Rock,” as well as iconic appearances in Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed” and film adaptation of David Mamet Glen Ross’ “Glengarry.” In recent years, he is known for his impressions of former President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live”.
Baldwin has been less active as an actor since filming, but has barely gone into hiding. He remains active on social media, creating Instagram videos, posting podcast interviews and photos of his wife and seven children.
Plans to resume filming were outlined last year by the cinematographer’s widower, Matthew Hutchins, in a proposal to settle a wrongful death lawsuit that made him executive producer. Souza said he will return to direct “Rust” to honor Halyna Hutchins’ legacy.
After a thorough review of safety by regulators in New Mexico, which detailed complaints and fire incidents that were ignored before Hutchins’ death in October 2021, the company manufacturer agreed to pay a fine of $100,000.
Prosecutors have officially denied the charge of involuntary manslaughter against Alec Baldwin in the 2021 shooting death of a cinematographer on the set of the Western film “Rust,” citing new and needed evidence. more time to investigate.
Special prosecutors Kari Morrisey and Jason Lewis filed the single charge dismissal notice against Baldwin in state District Court in Santa Fe on Friday. It says the investigation is ongoing.
The charge of involuntary manslaughter against Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the firearms supervisor in the film, is unchanged.
An online hearing has been scheduled for Friday in the state District Court for both defendants.
“New circumstances have been revealed that require further investigation and forensic analysis,” prosecutors said Thursday in a press release, without elaborating on those circumstances. “This decision does not absolve Mr Baldwin of criminal responsibility and charges may be resubmitted. Our further investigation will remain active and ongoing.”