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Baldwin lawyer says involuntary manslaughter charges are 'miscarriage of justice' in fatal shooting

The district attorney's office did not hold a press conference but made the announcement via social media.

Published: January 19, 2023 7:42am

Updated: January 19, 2023 1:48pm

Actor Alec Baldwin's attorney said the two involuntary manslaughter charges for the fatal 2021 shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the New Mexico film set of "Rust" are a "miscarriage of justice."

First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, a Santa Fe Democrat, said Thursday that by the end of the month, she will charge both Baldwin and "Rust" armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed with two charges of involuntary manslaughter related to the incident.

"This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins' tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice," Baldwin’s attorney Luke Nikas said, CNN reported. "Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the movie set. He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds. We will fight these charges, and we will win."

"Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will be 'charged in the alternative' with the two counts of manslaughter, meaning that a jury would decide not simply if they were guilty, but under which definition of involuntary manslaughter they were guilty," the attorney's office said.

"We were expecting the charges but they’re absolutely wrong as to Hannah - we expect that she will be found not guilty by a jury and she did not commit manslaughter," Gutierrez-Reed's attorney Jason Bowles said. "She has been emotional about the tragedy but has committed no crime."

Assistant director David Halls signed a plea agreement to the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon, the prosecutor said. He agreed to a suspended sentence and six months probation.

No charges will be filed over the non-fatal shooting of "Rust" director Joel Souza, officials said.

"On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice," Carmack-Altwies said.

The first involuntary manslaughter charge against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed requires proof of underlying negligence. The charge carries up to 18 months in jail and a $5,00 fine. 

The other charge, specifically involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, requires proof that more than simple negligence was involved. It carries the same penalties as the first charge, but a mandatory penalty of five years in jail may be added because a firearm was involved.

"If any one of these three people—Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or David Halls—had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. It’s that simple," special prosecutor Andrea Reep said. "The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the 'Rust' film set. In New Mexico, there is no room for film sets that don’t take our state’s commitment to gun safety and public safety seriously."

The defendants will be required to make an appearance in court before a preliminary hearing, the district attorney said.

Baldwin settled with Hutchins' family one year after she was fatally shot in October 2021. The actor had denied pulling the gun's trigger, but an FBI report found the firearm could not have gone off without the trigger being pulled. 

After announcing the charges, Carmack-Altwies told CNN that she is charging Baldwin as both an actor and a producer of "Rust" and that he was responsible for the gun firing.

"He was the actor that pulled the trigger, so certainly he’s charged as an actor, but also as a producer he also had a duty to make sure that the set was safe," she said.

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