The manslaughter charge against Alec Baldwin has been reduced, a major win for the Oscar-nominated actor accused in the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halena Hutchins on the New Mexico set of western movie “Rust.”
Prosecutors last month charged Baldwin with manslaughter, accusing him of skipping “required firearms training” and creating an “atmosphere of recklessness” on set.
Prosecutors have previously said the enhanced firearms in the charge would have made the crime punishable by the mandatory five years in prison.
New Mexico’s 1st Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack Altoys dropped reinforcements against the actor on Friday, according to new court filings made public Monday.
The decision means Baldwin now faces a maximum of 18 months behind bars if convicted in the shooting.
More coverage on the “Rust” set shoot.
- Alec Baldwin Requests Special Prosecutor’s Removal from Rust Case
- Alec Baldwin formally charged with manslaughter in ‘Rust’ shooting
- Lawyers say prosecutors will face difficult burden in portraying Alec Baldwin as a criminal
- Prosecutors say they knew early in the investigation that a fatal shooting of “Rust” would lead to charges
- Alec Baldwin settles lawsuit with family of cinematographer who was killed on the set of ‘Rust’
- Five notes from Alec Baldwin’s first sit-down interview about the fatal Rust shooting
“In order to avoid further judicial aberrations by Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys, the District Attorney and the Special Prosecutor have removed the firearm enhancement in the manslaughter charges in the death of Halena Hutchins on the set of the “Rust” movie,” said Heather Brewer, a spokeswoman for the Judicial District’s Senior District Attorney, Heather Brewer. New Mexico, in a statement The prosecution’s priority is securing justice, not securing paid hours for big city attorneys.
The development follows Baldwin filing a motion this month to remove special prosecutor Andrea Ripp from the case, citing New Mexico’s separation of powers law.
Baldwin’s legal team argued that Ripp, a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives, should be barred from the plaintiff’s table because the state constitution provides that “a sitting member of the legislature shall not ‘exercise any powers properly belonging’ to the executive branch or the judicial branch.” According to a filing with the New Mexico First Judicial District Court.
Prosecutors also charged Hana Gutierrez Reid, the filmmaker responsible for the weapons on set, with manslaughter and dropped a gun reinforcement against her as well.
“We applaud the Attorney General’s decision to drop the firearm enhancement, and that was the right call, both ethically and on the merits,” her attorney, Jason Bowles, said in a statement.
Baldwin’s attorneys declined to comment on the latest development, but previously objected to the augmentation, saying it was unconstitutional because it was added after the shooting.
“The plaintiffs committed a fundamental legal error in charging Mr Baldwin under a copy of the firearm enhancement statue that did not exist at the date of the incident,” the lawyers said in a previous court filing.
Officials said Baldwin was practicing his gun for a scene on October 21, 2021, when the gun went off, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Sousa.
He denied any wrongdoing in the shooting, which took place on set.
His lawyer, Luke Nicas, called the charges a “terrible miscarriage of justice”. Nikas previously said the defense would fight the charges and win.
“Mr. Necas had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on set,” said Nikas. “He relied on the professionals he worked with.”
Baldwin’s next court date has been set for Friday.