Alec Baldwin asks judge to dismiss charges in ‘Rust’ shooting

By Thomson Reuters Mar 14, 2024 | 8:08 PM

By Daniel Trotta

(Reuters) – Actor Alec Baldwin’s lawyers on Thursday asked a judge to dismiss manslaughter charges against him for the 2021 fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during filming of the Western movie “Rust,” alleging prosecutorial misconduct.

Trial is set for July 10 in New Mexico District Court in Santa Fe.

“Enough is enough. This is an abuse of the system, and an abuse of an innocent person whose rights have been trampled

to the extreme,” said the motion, filed eight days after a jury found the film’s armorer Hannah Gutierrez guilty of involuntary manslaughter in a separate trial.

Hutchins died when the reproduction Colt. 45 revolver Baldwin was rehearsing with fired a live round that also wounded director Joel Souza.

Criminal defendants routinely seek to dismiss charges, which judges rarely do. But charges against Baldwin were dropped once already and the trial of Gutierrez was Hollywood’s first for an on-set fatal shooting in nearly 30 years. She is due to be sentenced on April 15 and faces up to 18 months in state prison.

Baldwin’s lawyers argued that prosecutors have “publicly dragged Baldwin through the cesspool created by their improprieties.”Apart from those broadsides, defense lawyers offered legal arguments including that the state withheld “substantial exculpatory and favorable evidence” from the grand jury.

For example, they said prosecutors failed to call a witness who would have testified that Baldwin’s role as producer was purely for creative purposes and he had no role in enforcing safety protocols or hiring crew.

They cited precedents where judges dismissed indictments when prosecutors kept evidence favorable to the defense from being heard by the grand jury.

Baldwin faces two counts of manslaughter, one for negligent use of a firearm and another for failure to exercise due caution. The fourth-degree felonies carry a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Michael Perry)