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Key Points as Alec Baldwin Faces Trial for Cinematographer’s Death

Nearly three years after the tragic shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the New Mexico set of the film “Rust,” Alec Baldwin is set to face trial over her death. Here’s a concise overview of the key elements surrounding the case.

Alec Baldwin is entering a New Mexico courtroom for the first time since the October 21, 2021 shooting. He faces a charge of felony involuntary manslaughter. A unanimous conviction by the jury could result in an 18-month prison sentence for Baldwin.

During a rehearsal at Bonanza Creek Ranch, Baldwin, the star and co-producer of the Western, pointed a revolver at Hutchins. The gun discharged, killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza. Baldwin claims he only pulled back the hammer, not the trigger, before the gun went off.

The chaotic environment on set and specifics about the Italian-made classic revolver will dominate the trial discussions. It remains unclear who brought the live rounds onto the set. Prosecutors had previously alleged that Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the film’s armorer, was responsible. She was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

The jury will decide based on either the negligent use of a firearm or proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Baldwin acted with indifference to the safety of others. Despite the complexities, the 12 jurors of Santa Fe County will deliver a single verdict: guilty or not guilty.

The trial, held at the First Judicial District Court of New Mexico, is expected to last nine days. Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer aims to keep the proceedings streamlined. Jury selection begins Tuesday, opening statements on Wednesday, and the trial is projected to conclude the following Friday. Jurors can deliberate as long as necessary once they receive the case.

Baldwin, 66, gained fame in the late 1980s and early ’90s through roles in films like “Beetlejuice” and “The Hunt for Red October.” His career later included notable supporting roles, an Oscar nomination for “The Cooler,” and a shift to comedy with two Emmys for “30 Rock” and another for impersonating Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live.” Baldwin has also been a public figure known for his outspoken personality and occasional legal troubles.

Baldwin’s defense team, comprised mainly of New York-based attorneys from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, includes high-profile lawyer Alex Spiro. They will argue it wasn’t Baldwin’s duty to ensure no live rounds were in the gun, a stance supported by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Baldwin has maintained that he did not pull the revolver’s trigger.

The defense will challenge the gun’s evidence and question the damaging FBI tests on the revolver, which they claim destroyed crucial evidence. Prosecution experts from the Gutierrez-Reed trial will return to testify about Baldwin’s handling of the gun and its condition.

Santa Fe County District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies appointed Kari Morrissey as a special prosecutor in early 2023. Morrissey had the initial indictment against Baldwin dismissed but reinstated it this year after further examination. Morrissey and Baldwin’s lawyer, Spiro, have clashed frequently in pre-trial hearings.

The prosecution aims to show Baldwin’s role as both actor and producer contributed to the recklessness on set. Key testimonies will come from crew members present during Hutchins’ death, including director Joel Souza, assistant director David Halls, and crew member Zac Sneesby, who claims to have seen Baldwin pull the trigger.

Gutierrez-Reed may also testify, although the court denied her immunity deal. Jurors will hear from firearms experts arguing that the revolver could not have fired without pulling the trigger. Baldwin himself might take the stand, though it is not confirmed.

The trial, taking place in Santa Fe, a vibrant arts destination, contrasts with high-profile celebrity trials held in larger urban courts. Media presence will be significant, with proceedings streamed and broadcast by several outlets, including Court TV, making it accessible to the public.

Halyna Hutchins, 42, was an emerging cinematographer and mother when she died. She had a remarkable journey from a Soviet military base to a budding film career in Los Angeles.

Source: Associated Press