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Opening Statements Begin for Alec Baldwin ‘Rust’ Jurors

Nearly three years after the tragic on-set death of “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, New Mexico prosecutors are set to begin opening statements in actor Alec Baldwin’s involuntary manslaughter trial. The incident, which took place during the filming of the low-budget movie, sent shockwaves through Hollywood.

A jury of 12, plus four alternates, consisting of 11 women and five men, will hear prosecutors outline their arguments. They claim Baldwin ignored safety protocols while filming, ultimately pointing a gun at Hutchins during a rehearsal, cocking it, and pulling the trigger while setting up a camera shot in a location southwest of Santa Fe.

The weapon, a reproduction 1873 Single Action Army revolver, discharged a live round that was inadvertently loaded by armorer Hannah Gutierrez. This resulted in Hutchins’ death and also wounded the film’s director, Joel Souza.

Since the October 21, 2021 incident, Baldwin has maintained that the gun simply “went off.” In a December 2021 interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, Baldwin insisted he did not pull the trigger. However, a 2022 FBI test concluded that the gun was in normal working order and would not fire from a full cock position without the trigger being pulled.

In January 2022, state prosecutors charged Baldwin with involuntary manslaughter. But three months later, the charges were dropped after Baldwin’s lawyers presented photographic evidence suggesting the gun had been modified, making it more likely to fire accidentally. This bolstered Baldwin’s argument that the discharge was unintentional.

In January, a grand jury reinstated the charge following confirmation by an independent firearms expert that supported the 2022 FBI findings. The FBI’s testing had damaged the gun, and Baldwin’s defense team will argue that the destruction of the weapon made it impossible to prove whether it had been modified, as Baldwin claimed.

Armorer Hannah Gutierrez, who was responsible for managing the firearms on the “Rust” set, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in March for loading the live round. Prosecutors now face the challenge of convincing jurors that Baldwin, too, is guilty of willful and reckless criminal negligence.

Source: Reuters