‘Rust’ armorer says state withheld evidence, requests release from prison

June 30, 2024 - 2:51 PM
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the former armorer at the movie Rust, watches her father Thell Reed leave the podium after he asked the judge not to impose prison time on his daughter, during her sentencing hearing at First District Court, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S., April 15, 2024. (Eddie Moore/Pool via Reuters/File Photo)

Lawyers for Hannah Gutierrez, the chief weapons handler for the Western movie “Rust,” said in a Thursday court filing that prosecutors withheld evidence that would have favored the defendant during her manslaughter trial.

The filing comes as a New Mexico judge is expected to rule on Friday on a request from Alec Baldwin’s legal team that a manslaughter charge against him for the on-set shooting during the filming of “Rust” be tossed out.

During filming in 2021, cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot and killed by a gun used as a prop that was being handled at the time by Baldwin.

According to the filing, state prosecutors possessed a report from their own weapons experts that the gun used on the set of “Rust” had “unexplained toolmarks on critical surfaces of the trigger and sear.”

That, Gutierrez’s attorney Jason Bowles said, is evidence that the gun could have accidentally fired, as both Baldwin and Gutierrez’s legal teams have argued, and could have led to her not being found guilty at trial.

Bowles requested that Gutierrez be released from prison pending a new trial.

Bowles said he learned of the information during evidentiary hearings given in Baldwin’s case this week, describing it as “bombshell exculpatory evidence” withheld by prosecutors that “would have resulted in a fundamentally different trial and likely a different outcome” for his client.

State prosecutors did not respond to after-hours calls. During the evidentiary hearings in Baldwin’s case, one of the state’s weapons experts said that while he had at one time said in a report that marks on the gun might not have been caused during testing by the FBI, he later determined they had been.

In March, Gutierrez, 27, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for mistakenly loading a live round into a revolver Baldwin was using on a Santa Fe, New Mexico, movie set. She was sentenced in April to 18 months in prison.

The shooting, which stunned Hollywood, is believed to be the first time in modern times that a member of a film crew or cast was killed by a live round accidentally loaded into a gun.

Baldwin’s trial is set for July 10 after a grand jury indicted him on a charge of involuntary manslaughter in January.

—Reporting by Brad Brooks in Longmont, Colorado; Editing by Edwina Gibbs