Baldwin’s Lawyers Fight Against Looming Involuntary Manslaughter Trial in Santa Fe

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In the heart of Santa Fe, New Mexico, tension arises as defense attorneys for actor-producer Alec Baldwin fight tenaciously to ward off an impending involuntary manslaughter trial. Baldwin stands accused in the tragic shooting of a cinematographer during what was meant to be another day of rehearsal for the Western movie, “Rust.”

Baldwin’s legal team protests that crucial evidence, the firearm involved in the fatal incident, suffered substantial damage during FBI forensic testing ahead of their opportunity to perform an independent examination. They argue that the firearm’s condition precludes the possibility of identifying any modifications that may absolve Baldwin in the fatal shooting.

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Arguments are set to be heard Monday by New Mexico Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer, with Baldwin’s trial looming on the horizon, slated for commencement next month. In a twist, Baldwin’s lawyers argue that the very weapon key to the case was obliterated during its analysis process. They claim authorities disastrously struck the firearm with a hammer, which doubly served as detrimental to their case and the weapon’s physical state.

Rewinding back to the catastrophic day on October 21, 2021, Baldwin was rehearsing on a movie set ranch, with the ill-fated gun aimed at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Suddenly, the gun discharged, resulting in Hutchins’ untimely death and director Joel Souza’s wound, which he, fortunately, survived. Baldwin maintains his innocence, asserting that while he did pull back the gun’s hammer, he did not action the trigger.

On the prosecution’s side, they anticipate presenting compelling evidence, arguing the firearm was functioning correctly before the incident and “could not have fired absent a pull of the trigger”. This theory directly contradicts Baldwin’s version of events.

As part of the defense strategy, they focus on a shadowy and previously undisclosed expert analysis that raises doubts about the provenance of toolmarks on the gun’s firing mechanism.

In response to the charge of involuntary manslaughter, Baldwin maintains a firm plea of not guilty, a charge that, if convicted, carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison. Meanwhile, armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed has felt the full weight of legal justice. Held responsible for her part in the tragic mishap, Gutierrez-Reed was charged with involuntary manslaughter in March and handed an 18-month sentence. An FBI firearms expert who testified during this trial explained that the gun arrived fully functional with safety features at the FBI lab. He had to strike the gun forcefully with a mallet to enable a shot without pulling the trigger.

A recent wrench in the works came about when Judge Sommer denied prosecutors from utilizing immunity to elicit testimony from a potentially key witness, Gutierrez-Reed, during Baldwin’s trial. While her statements to investigators and workplace safety regulators are anticipated to feature significantly in the proceedings, her overall reluctance to testify threatens to limit further testimony. Judge Sommer, however, believes that other witnesses can adequately fill these gaps.

Judge Sommer also dismissed defense officials’ plea to jettison the trial, arguing that Baldwin had no reason to anticipate that the gun contained live ammunition and was therefore not “subjectively aware” of the risks involved.

A year ago, special prosecutors had dismissed an involuntary manslaughter charge against Baldwin, following intel that the gun may have been modified and malfunctioned pre-shooting. However, after a new analysis of the gun, they pivoted their stance, successfully procuring a grand jury indictment.

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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.