“Rust” trial begins: What could threaten Alec Baldwin?

The trial surrounding the fatal incident on the set of the western “Rust” begins in New Mexico. The focus is on lead actor Alec Baldwin.

This Tuesday (July 9), Hollywood star Alec Baldwin (66) is due to appear before a court in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for the accident on the set of the western “Rust,” in which camerawoman Halyna Hutchins (1979-2021) was fatally injured.

The incident

The fatal shot at Halyna Hutchins occurred in October 2021 during the filming of Baldwin’s low-budget western “Rust” in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Director Joel Souza (51) was also slightly injured by the bullet. Alec Baldwin, lead actor and co-producer of the film, held the gun from which the fatal shot was fired in his hands. Baldwin pleads “not guilty” and denies pulling the trigger of the gun. However, an independent report concluded that the shot could only have been fired by pulling the trigger.

The accusation

The first criminal charges against him were dropped in April 2022. At the time, however, a statement from the investigating authority said that they reserved the right to re-indict him if new facts emerged.

Baldwin was officially charged on January 31, 2023, with two counts. The first charge was negligent homicide, which, according to US media reports, carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison. The second charge was also negligent homicide, but in connection with the use of a firearm, which could therefore be punishable by up to five years in prison. The latter charge was dropped.

In April 2023, the charges against Baldwin were dropped, citing “new facts in the case.” “We will therefore withdraw the involuntary manslaughter charge against Mr. Baldwin to conduct further investigation,” the prosecutor’s office said. However, the charges could be re-filed.

A grand jury in Santa Fe, New Mexico, indicted Baldwin on January 19, 2024. Baldwin had twice tried to dismiss the case. In the second motion, it was again stated that Baldwin and all other actors on set were allegedly assured that the guns were all loaded with blanks.

A guilty verdict

In March 2024, the film’s master-at-arms Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was found guilty of neglecting her duty of supervision on set and was sentenced to 18 months in prison without parole for involuntary manslaughter. Gutierrez-Reed was called to testify at Baldwin’s trial, but she asserted her right not to answer questions about Baldwin during her pre-trial deposition in May. It is unclear whether she will testify if she is called to the stand.

Assistant director Dave Halls, who handed Baldwin the firearm on set and was sentenced to six months’ probation in late March 2023, is expected to take the stand. The court in Santa Fe, New Mexico, argued at his sentencing that Halls demonstrated “careless handling of a deadly weapon.” Halls pleaded guilty before the verdict was announced.

Jury selection for Baldwin’s trial begins on Tuesday. It is not yet clear whether the actor will testify in the witness stand. The trial is expected to last a total of two weeks. If found guilty, the actor faces up to 18 months in prison.

Source: Stern

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