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Alec Baldwin dodges charges in ‘Rust’ killing

Prosecutors will dismiss the case against the Hollywood actor, his lawyers said

Special prosecutors in New Mexico have decided to dismiss all charges against Hollywood A-lister Alec Baldwin, his attorneys told the media on Thursday. Baldwin was accused of involuntary manslaughter for fatally shooting cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in October 2021, on the set of the film Rust.

“We are pleased with the decision to dismiss the case against Alec Baldwin and we encourage a proper investigation into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident,” attorneys Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro said in a statement.

Santa Fe County prosecutors did not comment on the case, however. Citing anonymous sources, the trade publication Deadline reported that the special prosecutors intended to dismiss the charges without prejudice, meaning that they could theoretically be filed again, if new evidence came to light. The charges against Baldwin’s co-defendant and Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed remain open, however.

During one of the rehearsals, the gun Baldwin had been pointing at Hutchins went off, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza. In text messages to Hutchins’s husband, Baldwin disparaged the local police department and spoke of a “sabotage angle,” insisting he believed the gun was not loaded. He also said in TV interviews that he never pulled the trigger, though the FBI forensic report concluded the weapon could not have fired otherwise.

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This aerial photo shows the movie set of 'Rust' at Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, NM, on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021.
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Baldwin was formally charged in January this year, and pleaded not guilty a month later. By that point, prosecutors had already dropped the firearm enhancement charge, which would have carried a five-year sentence, leaving him open to the maximum penalty of 18 months in prison. That decision had been made “in order to avoid further litigious distractions by Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys,” a spokesperson for Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said at the time.

In March, Carmack-Altwies appointed New Mexico attorneys Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis to replace the former special prosecutor Andrea Reeb. Baldwin’s lawyers had demanded her dismissal because she was elected to the state legislature in November 2022, claiming this made her appointment unconstitutional. Reeb ran for office as a Republican. Baldwin is a prominent supporter of the ruling Democrats.

So far, only one person has been held accountable in the death of Hutchins and injury of Souza. David Halls, the film’s safety coordinator and assistant director, pleaded no contest in March to charges of unsafe handling of a firearm. He received a suspended sentence of six months of probation.

April 21, 2023 at 03:08AM

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