Actor Alec Baldwin, in December 2022, while attending a gala in New York ANDREW KELLY (Portal)
Important legal victory for Alec Baldwin. The Santa Fe County Attorney’s Office in New Mexico dropped charges against the actor in the tragedy on the set of Western Rust. The decision reduces the likelihood that the film’s actor and producer will be sentenced to prison for the October 2021 negligent murder of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Prosecutors therefore agree with Baldwin’s defense, which argued that the way prosecutors interpreted A law enacted after the incident, which occurred during a scene rehearsal, was “unconstitutional.” Also benefiting from the elimination of the position is Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the head of the production armory.
“The priority of the prosecution is to serve justice, not to extend the accounting hours of large law firms,” Heather Brewer, a spokeswoman for the Santa Fe prosecutor’s office handling the case against Baldwin and Gutierrez, told Reed Monday. Brewer’s testimony upheld the decision to drop the aggravated firearms charge, which carries a sentence of up to five years in prison. Without this charge, Baldwin faces a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison.
However, Alec Baldwin’s defense attorneys argued a few weeks ago that prosecutors were referring to a law passed statewide in 2022, months after a real bullet killed Hutchins and wounded the tape’s director, Joel Souza. “Prosecutors made a fundamental error of law in charging Mr. Baldwin with a rule that did not exist on the date of the accident,” Luke Nikas, one of the actor’s attorneys, wrote in a Feb. 10 filing with the court .
At the time, prosecutors described the defense statement as an “attempt to detract from the carelessness and indifference to safety procedures” that existed on set on the part of the production staff. “Even celebrities with their fancy lawyers need to be held accountable for their actions,” Brewer said in a statement released that day.
The law in effect on the day of the incident said that a gun trickery could be imposed if a firearm was “wielded” “to intimidate or injure a person” while a non-criminal crime was being committed. The rule was changed months after the accident. The legislature imposed a minimum sentence of five years in prison if the weapon was turned in while the crime was being committed.
Prosecutors eventually settled with Baldwin’s legal team. On Friday, the special prosecutor in the case modified the charges in court “to avoid further contentious distractions.” The decision was hailed by Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney, who felt the correction reflected “proper ethical standards” on the part of the prosecutor.
Baldwin, who remains free, will appear in court for the first time this month. He will do so via video conference at the first hearings of his reckless murder trial. His lawyers’ strategy has been described as aggressive. Lawyers have also tried to get rid of Andrea Reeb, who was appointed special prosecutor in the case in January. Reeb is a Republican officer serving in the New Mexico House of Representatives. The defense asserts that being part of the legislature prevents it from also being part of the judiciary. So far, Reeb has been defended by Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies.
In late January, Reeb and Carmack Altwies officially filed charges against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed. Another member of the production, Dave Halls, the assistant director, has pleaded guilty to the charges, avoiding a trial. Prosecutors highlighted the filming members’ “reckless” and “dangerous” behavior in using the Colt .45, which eventually resulted in Hutchins being killed. The presence of a real bullet was a flagrant violation of film industry safety protocols. At least five other projectiles were found during filming. However, Baldwin has defended his innocence by arguing he used a gun he thought was unloaded. He first said he never pulled the trigger, but an FBI investigation has denied that.
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