Judge Hands Down Maximum 18-Month Sentence to ‘Rust’ Armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed

Eddie Moore/Pool via AP via NBC News Photo Source: Eddie Moore/Pool via AP via NBC News

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer on the set of the Western film, ‘Rust,’ starring Alec Baldwin has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for involuntary manslaughter following the 2021 shooting death of cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins. Hutchins was killed after Baldwin pulled the trigger of a prop gun that discharged with live ammunition loaded into it, killing Hutchins and injuring film director Joel Souza.

Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer brought down the maximum sentence in a harsh ruling that called out Gutierrez-Reed’s lack of remorse during the trial. Judge Marlowe Sommer called into judgment comments Gutierrez-Reed made during jailhouse phone call conversations with family and friends. The comments painted a picture of an accused Gutierrez-Reed who showed little remorse for her actions.

Judge Marlowe Sommer shared some of the comments made in the phone calls describing, “Hannah says, ‘people have accidents and that people die, it’s an unfortunate part of life’ but that doesn't mean she should be in jail.” The judge continued, "In your allocution, you said you were sorry but not … sorry for what you did. It was your attorney that had to tell the court that you were remorseful. The word remorse —a deep regret, coming from a sense of guilt from past wrongs —that’s not you.” Marlowe Sommer went on to say that Gutierrez-Reed failed to “express some level of remorse that was genuine.”

Before the harsh ruling was handed down, Gutierrez-Reed took to the podium to defend herself, explaining, "Your honor, when I took on 'Rust,' I was young and naive. But I took my job as seriously as I knew how to. I beg you, please, don't give me more time. The jury has found me in part at fault for this horrible tragedy, but that doesn't make me a monster. That makes me human."

Her pleas were not enough to move the court into delivering anything less than the maximum of 18 months.

States take the guidance of federal law when determining their own sentencing guidelines. As with many other charges, on charges of involuntary manslaughter, judges have the discretion to impose a sentence within those guidelines that they feel best fits the circumstances.

During sentencing, a judge will typically look for the presence of any aggravating or mitigating factors, including a defendant's criminal history —or lack thereof – and any remorse shown for their actions. During sentencing, Judge Marlowe Sommer made it clear that Gutierrez-Reed’s lack of remorse warranted the execution of the full sentence.

During trial, Hutchins’ loved ones pleaded for Gutierrez-Reed to be held accountable for her recklessness and lack of remorse, with Hutchins’ friend Jen White telling the court, “If prison time is the only way she will face any responsibility … it should be for as long as the law allows,” adding, "I beg you to impose the maximum sentence."

A letter read during trial on behalf of Hutchins’ father also emphasized the theme of remorse, urging, "Each person responsible… needs to carry the punishment that is equal to their guilt. Maybe, just maybe, this might prevent the same type of tragedies in the future to others, and spare other parents from such a heart-wrenching catastrophe."

The sentencing was particularly clear in linking Gutierrez-Reed’s actions to Hutchins’ death. Judge Marlowe Sommer said during sentencing, "You alone turned a safe weapon into a lethal weapon,” adding, "But for you, Ms. Hutchins would be alive. A husband would have his partner, and a little boy would have his mother."

Baldwin stands for his own trial for involuntary manslaughter in July. While it’s not clear how and if Gutierrez-Reed’s sentencing might influence his trial, Monday’s sentencing makes it clear that the New Mexico Courts are taking the charges seriously and are not afraid to hand down the maximum term provided in the sentencing guidelines.

Baldwin has maintained his innocence, arguing that he did not pull the trigger. But unlike his former crew member, Baldwin has expressed many times his sadness, remorse, and feelings of guilt for the events that unfolded that fateful day.

Nadia El-Yaouti
Nadia El-Yaouti
Nadia El-Yaouti is a postgraduate from James Madison University, where she studied English and Education. Residing in Central Virginia with her husband and two young daughters, she balances her workaholic tendencies with a passion for travel, exploring the world with her family.
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