Alec Baldwin asks judge to dismiss charges in ‘Rust’ shooting

March 15, 2024 - 2:11 PM
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Actor Alec Baldwin appears in court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., January 23, 2019. (Alex Tabak/Pool via Reuters/File Photo)

Actor Alec Baldwin’s lawyers on Thursday asked a judge to dismiss manslaughter charges against him for the 2021 fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during filming of the Western movie “Rust,” alleging prosecutorial misconduct.

Trial is set for July 10 in New Mexico.

“Enough is enough. This is an abuse of the system, and an abuse of an innocent person whose rights have been trampled

to the extreme,” said the motion, filed eight days after a jury found the film’s armorer Hannah Gutierrez guilty of involuntary manslaughter in a separate trial.

Hutchins died when the reproduction Colt. 45 revolver Baldwin was rehearsing with fired a live round that also wounded director Joel Souza.

Criminal defendants routinely seek to dismiss charges, which judges rarely do. But charges against Baldwin were dropped once already and the trial of Gutierrez was Hollywood’s first for an on-set fatal shooting in nearly 30 years. She is due to be sentenced on April 15 and faces up to 18 months in state prison.

Baldwin’s lawyers argued that prosecutors have “publicly dragged Baldwin through the cesspool created by their improprieties. “Apart from those broadsides, defense lawyers offered legal arguments including that the state withheld “substantial exculpatory and favorable evidence” from the grand jury.

For example, they said prosecutors failed to call a witness who would have testified that Baldwin’s role as producer was purely for creative purposes and he had no role in enforcing safety protocols or hiring crew.

They cited precedents where judges dismissed indictments when prosecutors kept evidence favorable to the defense from being heard by the grand jury.

Special prosecutor Kari Morrissey said she would respond in court and had 14 days to file a reply.

In New Mexico, defense lawyers can call witnesses to a grand jury if the defendant testifies. In Baldwin’s case, he did not take the stand at the January grand jury proceeding.

Prosecutors must alert the grand jury of witnesses and evidence the defense has presented and give jurors the chance to hear those witnesses and see evidence, if requested.

Baldwin faces two counts of manslaughter, one for negligent use of a firearm and another for failure to exercise due caution. The fourth-degree felonies carry a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison.

Baldwin was first charged with involuntary manslaughter in January of 2023. The charge was dismissed three months later when his lawyers presented evidence the revolver Baldwin was using had been modified and it could fire without the trigger being pulled.

The “30 Rock” actor has denied responsibility for Hutchins’ death, saying the gun went off without him pulling the trigger.

Morrissey in January called a grand jury to indict Baldwin after an independent test of the gun found it would not fire without the trigger being pulled. The test confirmed a previous FBI examination.

— Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Michael Perry