Alec Baldwin seeks dismissal of grand jury indictment in fatal shooting of ‘Rust’ cinematographer

Defense attorneys for Alec Baldwin urged a New Mexico judge to dismiss a grand jury indictment against the actor in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the set of the Western movie “Rust.”

Published - March 15, 2024 12:21 pm IST

FILE PHOTO: Actor Alec Baldwin appears in court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., January 23, 2019.

FILE PHOTO: Actor Alec Baldwin appears in court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., January 23, 2019. | Photo Credit: POOL

Defense attorneys for Alec Baldwin urged a New Mexico judge on Thursday to dismiss a grand jury indictment against the actor in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the set of the Western movie Rust.

The indictment in January charged Baldwin with involuntary manslaughter in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on Oct. 21, 2021, at a movie ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe.

Baldwin has pleaded not guilty to the charge. His attorneys in a new court filing accused prosecutors of “unfairly stacking the deck" against Baldwin in grand jury proceedings that diverted attention away from exculpatory evidence and witnesses.

They say that prevented the jury from asserting their obligation to hear testimony from director Joel Souza, who was wounded in the shooting while standing near Hutchins, as well as assistant director and safety coordinator Dave Halls and props master Sarah Zachry.

“The grand jury did not receive the favorable or exculpatory testimony and documents that the state had an obligation to present,” said the court motion signed by defense attorney Luke Nikas. “Nor was the grand jury told it had a right to review and the obligation to request this information.”

Prosecutor Kari Morrissey declined to comment and said a response will be filed with the court.

Baldwin's motion also asserts that the grand jury received inaccurate and one-sided testimony about the revolver involved in the fatal shooting.

Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was convicted by a jury last week in the shooting and is being held without bond pending an April sentencing hearing. Involuntary manslaughter carries a felony sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Baldwin was pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins when the revolver went off, killing Hutchins and injuring Souza. Baldwin has maintained that he pulled back the gun’s hammer, but not the trigger.

Prosecutors blamed Gutierrez-Reed at a two-week trial for unwittingly bringing live ammunition onto the set of “Rust” where it was expressly prohibited. They also said she failed to follow basic gun-safety protocols.

Halls last year pleaded no contest to negligent handling of a firearm and completed a sentence of six months of unsupervised probation.

Baldwin is scheduled for trial in July.

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