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Experts Testify on Live Bullets Found on 'Rust' Movie Set

Experts Testify on Live Bullets Found on ‘Rust’ Movie Set

July 11 (UPI) — In Alec Baldwin’s manslaughter trial on Thursday, crime scene technician Marissa Poppell testified that a live bullet was found in another actor’s bandolier on the set of the movie Rust. This disturbing detail emerged during a hearing that delved deeper into the tragic incident that occurred during the film’s production.

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Actor Alec Baldwin attends his manslaughter trial for the 2021 fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during filming of the Western movie “Rust,'” in Santa Fe, N.M., on Thursday. Pool Photo by Ramsay De Give/EPA-EFE

During the ongoing trial, Baldwin is facing a potential 18-month prison sentence if convicted of involuntary manslaughter in New Mexico. Poppell provided crucial testimony that live rounds were discovered on the film’s prop cart, in an ammo box, and in two holsters, one of which belonged to Baldwin.

Poppell recounted that the FBI was handed the gun that tragically killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in an intact condition. However, when it returned after testing, it was found to be “broken.” This discrepancy drew significant attention during the trial.

The prosecutor, Erlinda Johnson, argued that Baldwin mishandled the firearm in a manner that breached fundamental firearm safety rules. Johnson emphasized that Baldwin did not perform a safety check on the firearm before utilizing it in a rehearsed scene.

Conversely, defense lawyer Alex Spiro argued that other individuals on the set bore responsibility for allowing real bullets onto the set and into the weapon. “Those people failed in their duties, but Alec Baldwin committed no crime,” Spiro asserted.

Under cross-examination, Poppell agreed with Spiro that mixing live ammunition with dummy ammo made it easy to mistakenly combine them, thereby increasing the risk of mishaps.

The trial is set to continue with former Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed scheduled to testify. Her attorney, Jason Bowles, confirmed her transfer to Santa Fe from the Western New Mexico Correctional facility, where she is serving an 18-month sentence for her involvement in the shooting incident.

On Thursday, the defense introduced a document instructing Baldwin to “thumb cock” the handgun, which he claims led to an unintentional discharge. Baldwin maintains that the gun misfired and that he never pulled the trigger. Nonetheless, prosecutors argue that there is no evidence supporting the misfire claim.

During the trial, the jury was shown body camera footage from Santa Fe Police officer Nicholas Lefleur, showing first responders transporting Hutchins out of the Rust set on a stretcher. The incident also resulted in injuries to Director Joel Souza.

In the video, Baldwin is seen admitting to Lefleur, “I was holding the gun, yeah,” while Gutierrez-Reed can be observed in a state of distress. Additionally, 911 audio played during cross-examination featured a script supervisor stating, “We’ve had two people accidentally shot on a movie set by a prop gun.”

The courtroom scenes unfolded as both sides presented their arguments and evidence, with everyone keenly awaiting further developments in this high-profile case.

The trial continues to garner attention as it sheds light on the tragic accident that claimed the life of a talented cinematographer and left an indelible mark on all those involved in the production of the movie Rust.

Source: UPI, NBC News