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Alec Baldwin Portrayed as Reckless Rule-Breaker in Film Shooting Trial

Alec Baldwin Portrayed as Reckless Rule-Breaker in Film Shooting Trial

SANTA FE, N.M. — Prosecutors aimed to portray Alec Baldwin as someone who flouts rules and has a disregard for safety during the first day of his New Mexico trial for the shooting of a cinematographer.

Special prosecutor Erlinda Ocampo Johnson emphasized Baldwin’s behavior on the set of the film “Rust,” asserting that his playing “make-believe” with a revolver resulted in real danger and the death of Halyna Hutchins, a “vibrant 42-year-old rising star.”

In her opening statement on Wednesday, Ocampo Johnson explained that Baldwin had requested the biggest gun available and was seen during a training session having people film him while he was “running around shooting this gun.”

The prosecutor stated that behind-the-scenes video would show Baldwin nonchalantly neglecting basic firearm safety.

“You will see him using this gun as a pointer to point at people, point at things,” Ocampo Johnson said. “You will see him cock the hammer when he is not supposed to cock the hammer, you will see him put his finger on the trigger when his finger’s not supposed to be on the trigger.”

Hutchins’ death and the injury of director Joel Souza nearly three years ago sent shock waves through the film industry, leading to a felony involuntary manslaughter charge against Baldwin that could result in up to 18 months in prison.

The trial of the 66-year-old star resumed Thursday with testimony from a crime scene technician from the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department.

The initial testimony by technician Marissa Poppell allowed jurors to see the revolver and the spent round involved in the shooting.

Baldwin’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, argued that Baldwin acted in accordance with typical practices for actors.

“He must be able to take that weapon and use it in the way that the person he’s playing would,” Spiro told jurors.

This includes pulling the trigger. Baldwin claimed the gun fired accidentally, but Spiro maintained that even deliberate firing wouldn’t amount to manslaughter.

“On a movie set, you’re allowed to pull that trigger,” Spiro said.

Spiro called the incident an “unspeakable tragedy,” acknowledging that an “amazing person” died, but he placed the responsibility on the film’s armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was already convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and assistant director David Halls, who had told Baldwin the gun was “cold.”

“It had been checked and double checked by those responsible for ensuring the gun was safe,” Spiro said. “He did not tamper with it, he did not load it himself. He did not leave it unattended.”

The first witness was Nicholas LeFleur, the first law enforcement officer to arrive at the movie set after the shooting. His lapel camera video showed the chaotic scene and a grim view of an apparently unconscious Hutchins as LeFleur and others attempted to revive her.

Later in the video, LeFleur can be seen telling Baldwin not to speak to other potential witnesses, yet Baldwin repeatedly does so.

“Was Mr. Baldwin supposed to be talking about the incident?” special prosecutor Kari Morrissey asked.

“No ma’am,” LeFleur replied.

“Does he appear to be doing it anyway?” Morrissey asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” LeFleur said.

Among those in the gallery behind Baldwin were his wife Hilaria Baldwin, younger brother Stephen Baldwin, and older sister Elizabeth Keuchler, who wiped away tears at times during the proceedings.


Dalton reported from Los Angeles.

Source: AP