14 June 2023

Weapons expert in Alec Baldwin case was hungover on Rust set, prosecutors claim

14 June 2023

The weapons supervisor on the film set where Alec Baldwin shot and killed a cinematographer was drinking and smoking marijuana in the evenings during the making of Rust, prosecutors have alleged, saying she was likely to have been hungover when she loaded a live bullet into the revolver that the actor used.

They levelled the accusations in response to a motion filed last month by Hannah Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyers that seeks to dismiss an involuntary manslaughter charge against her.

The prosecutors accused her of having a history of reckless conduct and argued that it would be in the public interest for her to “finally be held accountable”.

Jason Bowles, Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyer, said on Tuesday that the prosecution has mishandled the case.

“The case is so weak that they now have chosen to resort to character assassination claims about Hannah,” he told the Associated Press.

“The prosecution has abandoned the idea of doing justice and getting to the actual truth, apparently.”

A preliminary hearing for Gutierrez-Reed is scheduled for August.

A judge is expected to decide then if there is probable cause for the charge to move forward.

In their response, the prosecutors also noted that they expect to decide within the next 60 days whether to re-charge Baldwin, depending on the results of an analysis of the gun and its broken sear (part of the trigger mechanism).

The items were sent to the state’s independent expert for further testing.

The involuntary manslaughter charge faced by Baldwin, who also was a producer on the film, was dismissed in April, with prosecutors citing new evidence and the need for more time to investigate.

Baldwin was pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal on the New Mexico film set in October 2021 when it went off, killing her and wounding the film’s director, Joel Souza.

Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyers had argued in their motion that the prosecution was “tainted by improper political motives” and that Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies and the initial special prosecutor she appointed, Andrea Reeb, “both used the tragic film set accident that resulted in the death of Halyna Hutchins as an opportunity to advance their personal interests”.

The defence lawyers contend that the permanent damage done to the gun by FBI testing before the defence could examine it amounts to destruction of evidence and a violation of the court’s rules of discovery.

They also argue that the “selective prosecution” of Gutierrez-Reed is a violation of the equal protection clause of the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

New special prosecutors who were appointed after Reeb stepped down disputed those claims in their response, saying “nothing about this prosecution has or will be selective”.

The prosecutors also acknowledged the unanswered question of where the live rounds found on set came from, saying they were trying to find out and that the investigation is continuing.

They also suggested there is evidence to support the theory that Gutierrez-Reed herself may be responsible and, if so, more charges may follow.

They offered no specifics in the filing as to what that evidence might be.

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