Manslaughter Trial Begins of ‘Rust’ Armorer in Alec Baldwin Shooting

Manslaughter Trial Begins of ‘Rust’ Armorer in Alec Baldwin Shooting

The involuntary manslaughter trial of the armorer who loaded the gun Alec Baldwin was rehearsing with on the set of “Rust” when it fired, killing the movie’s cinematographer, began on Thursday with prosecutors accusing her of performing “sloppy and incomplete” safety checks of the weapon and of being responsible for the presence of live rounds on the set.

During opening arguments one of the prosecutors told the jury that the armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, had treated gun safety protocols on the film set “as if they were optional,” leading her to miss the fact that she had loaded a live round into an old-fashioned revolver she was preparing for Mr. Baldwin.

The gun went off as he practiced drawing it at a blocking rehearsal, killing the film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins.

“We believe that it was the negligent acts and failures of the defendant, Ms. Gutierrez, that resulted in both the acts that contributed to Ms. Hutchins’s death and to the live rounds being brought onto the set,” the prosecutor, Jason J. Lewis, said in the First Judicial District Courthouse in Santa Fe, N.M., as the trial began.

Mr. Baldwin is being tried separately on an involuntary manslaughter charge. He has pleaded not guilty.

On the day of the fatal shooting — Oct. 21, 2021 — the crew was setting up a tight frame of Mr. Baldwin drawing a revolver ahead of a gunfight when the weapon fired a live round, striking Ms. Hutchins and then hitting the movie’s director, Joel Souza, who survived.

Ms. Gutierrez-Reed, who has pleaded not guilty, has been a focus of scrutiny as investigators sought to figure out how live ammunition turned up on a film set where it was banned, and how it ended up in a gun that should only have been loaded with dummy rounds, which are inert cartridges that resemble real rounds but cannot be fired.

In his opening arguments, one of Ms. Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyers, Jason Bowles, argued that she was being made the “scapegoat” for other people’s mistakes. He accused Dave Halls, the movie’s first assistant director, of failing to uphold safety protocols, said that the production had overburdened his client with multiple responsibilities on set and faulted Mr. Baldwin for pointing the gun toward crew members.

(Mr. Baldwin has denied responsibility for the shooting, saying that he was told where to point the gun and had no reason to think it was loaded with live ammunition; Mr. Halls took a plea deal related to the case.)

“What you’re seeing in this courtroom today is trying to blame it all on Hannah, the 24-year-old,” Mr. Bowles said of his client, who is now 26. “And why? Because she’s an easy target. She’s the least powerful person on that set.”

In addition to an involuntary manslaughter charge, Ms. Gutierrez-Reed faces one count of evidence tampering, which prosecutors brought based on an account from another “Rust” crew member, who said Ms. Gutierrez-Reed passed off a baggie of cocaine to her on the day of the shooting, after she spoke to the police.

In laying out their theory for why they are arguing that Ms. Gutierrez-Reed brought the live ammunition onto the film set, prosecutors showed the jurors a photo of the armorer with a case of rounds sitting on her lap, pointing to at least two rounds with silver primers that they say match the appearance of other live rounds found on set.

“We believe that was a live bullet sitting on her lap and she failed to identify it,” Mr. Lewis said.

Mr. Bowles countered that the color of the primer on the rounds did not definitively prove that they were live. “You cannot tell a live round from a dummy by a picture,” he said.

The question of who supplied live ammunition to the set will be a central dispute during the trial. The defense argues that it was fault of the movie’s primary weapons and ammunition supplier, who has denied responsibility and is expected to testify.

Source Link

You may also like

Leave a Comment