Alec Baldwin Faces Trial Over Fatal ‘Rust’ Shooting Incident


It was an awful day at a New Mexico movie set, an event that shook the film industry and left a life tragically ended. On that ill-starred day, Alec Baldwin, well-known actor and co-producer, unintentionally fired a gun during a rehearsal for the Western film ‘Rust,’ instantly killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza. The movie set church was filled with around a dozen people who witnessed this horrifying incident.

Fast forward to almost three years later, numerous legal hearings, and extensive discussions – Baldwin is now facing trial on allegations of involuntary manslaughter. Several individuals who were present at the movie set that day are anticipated to provide evidence in court.

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The roll of witnesses includes investigators, professionals of firearms, and potentially the film’s armorer, who is presently appealing her conviction for her involvement in the shooting accident.

Baldwin, standing as the lead actor and co-producer of ‘Rust,’ maintains that the shooting was an accident. He had been instructed to aim the gun towards Hutchins, who was stationed behind the camera. Oblivious to the fact that the gun was loaded, he retells the fateful moment, claiming that he only pulled back the hammer, not the trigger, and yet it fired.

The prosecution, however, contends that the gun couldn’t have discharged without the trigger being pulled. They argue that Baldwin shares the culpability for the unfortunate events of that day.

Known for his illustrious roles in films like ‘The Hunt for Red October,’ ‘The Departed,’ and the sitcom ’30 Rock,’ Alec Baldwin’s career has touched multiple genres for more than four decades, including a profusion of roles involving firearms. Having been charged twice in connection with Hutchins’ death, an earlier charge was dismissed only to be reprised after the grand jury received a new examination of the gun that Baldwin pointed at Hutchins. The indictment posits that Baldwin’s negligence or complete unconcern for safety resulted in Hutchins’ death. Baldwin has entered a plea of not guilty.

The list of witnesses in this trial includes several significant figures. This includes Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer for ‘Rust’ and stepdaughter of famed gunslinger and weapons consultant Thell Reed. At the time of the disastrous rehearsal, Gutierrez-Reed was just 24. Facing allegations of professional negligence, she received an 18-month sentence for involuntary manslaughter that she’s currently appealing.

David Halls, a seasoned assistant director and safety coordinator, and Joel Souza, a director and writer who penned the script for “Rust,” will also likely testify. Souza, who had been personally injured by the bullet that killed Hutchins, testified earlier that he moved behind Hutchins to better view the camera angle and never saw the gun that shot him.

Others expected to take the stand include Ross Addiego, a crew member, and Zac Sneesby, a sound engineer who was on the set that fateful day. Both of these individuals, along with other crew members are entangled in a legal battle against the film’s producers for failing to abide by the industry’s safety norms.

Crucially, Lucien Haag, a firearms expert, is listed as a witness. Haag and his son, recognized as experts on firearm forensics, were previously involved in studying the gun that Baldwin fired during the rehearsal for ‘Rust.’

The prosecution will be led by Kari Morrissey, a seasoned attorney with over two decades of practice in New Mexico and experience handling hundreds of trials, and Erlinda Johnson, a last-minute addition to the team with experience in criminal defense.

Baldwin is defended by an equally formidable legal team. Harvard Law School graduate Luke Nikas and his partner Alex Spiro, who are partners at one of the world’s largest law firms, represent Baldwin. Both come into the trial with a wealth of experience, having represented a roster of high-profile clients.

Finally, overseeing this high-profile trial will be Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer. A legal veteran with a career spanning work as a law clerk, a defense attorney, and a hearing officer, she was appointed to the First Judicial District Court by then-New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. Known for her meticulousness and keen eye for detail, she is expected to guide the attorneys through a rigorous and exacting trial.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.