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New Mexico district attorney may charge Alec Baldwin in ‘Rust’ shooting

Alec Baldwin on the “Rust” set immediately following the shooting of Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza in New Mexico. (Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office/TNS)

The New Mexico state district attorney could file criminal charges against four people, including actor Alec Baldwin, for the fatal shooting on the movie set of “Rust.”

In a recent letter to the state’s finance board, Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said as many as four people could face criminal charges in connection with the accident last year that claimed the life of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza.

The letter, first reported by the Santa Fe New Mexican, indicated that her office is considering charges, including homicide as well as gun violations, against four individuals.

“One of the possible defendants is well-known movie actor Alec Baldwin,” the district attorney wrote in a letter dated Aug. 30 and viewed by the Los Angeles Times. She did not identify other individuals who might be charged.

“If charges are warranted, the (1st Judicial District attorney) anticipates prosecuting up to four individuals. My expenses for the ‘Rust’ (case) will begin immediately and will be costly,” she wrote.

The emergency request for funding could not wait until the next legislative session because “the evidence has just been returned, the state is ready to make charging decisions in the ‘Rust’ case,” she wrote.

Carmack-Altwies requested $635,500 for what she described as potentially four separate jury trials and to hire a special investigator, a media spokesperson and experts.

The state gave the district attorney’s office $317,000 for the appointment of a special prosecutor to oversee the case, according to the state office’s website.

The DA has named Andrea Reeb as a special prosecutor.

Baldwin’s phone, one of the outstanding pieces of evidence in the case, has been handed over to prosecutors, ABC News reported.

Representatives of the New Mexico district attorney’s office and Baldwin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Baldwin has repeatedly denied culpability in the shooting.

Next month will mark a year since the accident on the set of the low-budget western as questions remain about how a live round ended up on the production, in violation of safety practices.

Last month, another piece of key evidence was delivered to police. A long-awaited FBI report, including an analysis of the weapon that Baldwin fired, concluded that the pistol “functioned normally when tested in the laboratory.”

The report noted that, in order for the replica Pietta Colt .45 to fire, the trigger needed to be pulled. Those results appeared to cast doubt on Baldwin’s statements late last year to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that he did not pull the trigger.

However, an attorney for Baldwin, who was also a producer on the movie, said that the report’s conclusions had been “misconstrued.”

“The gun fired in testing only one time — without having to pull the trigger — when the hammer was pulled back and the gun broke in two different places,” said Luke Nikas, Baldwin’s attorney. “The FBI was unable to fire the gun in any prior test, even when pulling the trigger, because it was in such poor condition.”

Earlier this year Hutchins’ family filed a wrongful death suit against Baldwin, producers and members of the “Rust” production who they alleged breached “the most basic rules of firearm use on a film production.”

The attorneys for the Hutchins family sued armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who they said was responsible for maintaining the weapons on set and did not verity that the revolver or ammunition were safe before first assistant director Dave Halls handed the gun to Baldwin. Halls, a defendant in the suit, also never verified the revolver was safe, according to the complaint.

Baldwin blamed Gutierrez Reed and Halls for the tragedy in an interview with CNN last month.

A representative for Halls and Gutierrez Reed did not respond to requests for comment.

A New Mexico state agency levied its maximum fine on the producers behind “Rust” for safety violations, saying they demonstrated “plain indifference” to employee safety. Rust Movie Productions LLC has denied the allegations.


© 2022 Los Angeles Times

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