Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction as Criminal Charges Dropped Against Baldwin, Due to New Evidence That Gun Had Been Tampered With Prior to Shooting

Alec Baldwin on the “Rust” set immediately after the shooting of Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza.(Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office via LA Times) Photo Source: Alec Baldwin on the “Rust” set immediately after the shooting of Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza.(Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office via LA Times)

The ongoing trial against Alec Baldwin and armorer Hanna Gutierrez-Reed for the shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Anatoliivna Hutchins just took a dramatic turn, as the case continues to mimic the saying that truth is stranger than fiction.

Actor and film producer Alex Baldwin, with armorer Hanna Gutierrez-Reed, had both been charged in the killing. Baldwin had originally been charged with a fourth-degree felony charge for involuntary manslaughter after the gun he was using in rehearsal went off, killing Ms. Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

Suddenly, new evidence in the Rust shooting death case led to the dismissal of charges against Baldwin. The charges against the film’s armorer Hanna Gutierrez-Reed, however, remain in place.

Originally, prosecutors had argued that Baldwin pulled the trigger on the gun which could not have gone off otherwise. The gun, unbeknownst to Mr. Baldwin and others, had a live round inside the chamber. Original prosecutor District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies stepped down from the case in April after District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer ruled she could not serve as co-counsel. New prosecutors were appointed for the case, and they reviewed all evidence.

But the new prosecutors discovered evidence showing the gun Mr. Baldwin was practicing with on set had been modified before he received it. This discovery of new evidence meant that the prosecution's argument that Mr. Baldwin had pulled the trigger, because otherwise the gun could not have fired, was moot.

Because the gun was tampered with, according to new evidence, this means that someone may have rigged the gun to go off without any action by Mr. Baldwin. Throughout the trial, the actor has been adamant that he never pulled the trigger. The shocking new evidence led to charges being dropped against Mr. Baldwin.

“New facts were revealed that demand further investigation and forensic analysis in the case against Alec Baldwin,” said Kari Morrissey, one of the numerous new special prosecutors. “Therefore, we cannot proceed under the current time constraints and on the facts and evidence turned over by law enforcement in its existing form.”

Simultaneously, the charges against the armorer have not been dropped. After the dismissal of charges against Mr. Baldwin, attorneys for Gutierrez-Reed said they expect their client’s charges to be dropped as well.

“The new special prosecutor has taken a very diligent and thorough approach to the entire investigation, which we welcome and have always welcomed,” said Ms. Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys.“They are seeking the truth and we are also. The truth about what happened will come and the questions that we have long sought answers for will be answered. We fully expect at the end of this process that Hannah will also be exonerated.”

Currently, the case against Ms. Gutierrez-Reed is ongoing and is scheduled to begin in June.

The defense attorneys argued that the fatal shooting was accidental, caused by a mix of live and dummy ammunition on the set. The District Attorney studied the evidence for over a year before filing charges that included a new “enhancement” that would have added five years to the prior maximum sentence of 18 months.

However, Mr. Baldwin’s attorneys successfully argued that this new “enhancement” could not be legally applied in this case, since the law authorizing it was passed after the October 2021 Santa Fe shooting death of Ms. Hutchins.

In early May, state District Judge Bryan Biedscheid granted a motion to seal the settlement agreement and all related hearings concerning a wrongful death lawsuit brought by Ms. Hutchins’ widower, Matthew Hutchins.

Yet news is now public that the settlement in Mr. Hutchins’ civil suit resulted in the widower now serving as an executive producer in the film Rust, which is now back in production.

In yet another cliffhanger moment in this case, Mr. Baldwin is not off the hook, according to the new prosecutors.

"This decision does not absolve Mr. Baldwin of criminal culpability and charges may be refiled,” noted one of the new prosecutors on the case.

Diane Lilli
Diane Lilli
Diane Lilli is an award-winning Journalist, Editor, and Author with over 18 years of experience contributing to New Jersey news outlets, both in print and online. Notably, she played a pivotal role in launching the first daily digital newspaper, Jersey Tomato Press, in 2005. Her work has been featured in various newspapers, journals, magazines, and literary publications across the nation. Diane is the proud recipient of the Shirley Chisholm Journalism Award.
Legal Blogs (Sponsored)