‘Rust’ Shooting Trial: What to Know About the Fatal Incident & More – Hollywood Life

Alec Baldwin’s ‘Rust’ Shooting Case: What to Know About the Charges, Possible Prison Time & More

The '30 Rock' alum was indicted by a grand jury in early 2024 on involuntary manslaughter charges. Learn about the case, here.

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Image Credit: Gregory Pace/James Gourley/Variety/Shutterstock

30 Rock alum Alec Baldwin, 66, is a successful actor and producer known for starring in many hit films and TV shows including It’s ComplicatedThe Departed, and more. Despite his success, his life took a turn when the cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, working on his movie, Rust, was fatally shot on October 21, 2021. On April 20, 2023, it was reported that his involuntary manslaughter charge was expected to be dropped after his not-guilty plea, but in August 2023, another report said more charges could happen in the future. However, the actor was indicted yet again on involuntary manslaughter charges on January 19, 2024. 

On April 15, 2024, armorer Hannah-Gutierrez-Reed was sentenced to 18 months in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

Here is everything to know about what happened to Halyna, Alec’s charges, the trial, and more below.

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Alec Baldwin in the film ‘Rust’ set to resume filming in spring 2023. (Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office/MEGA)

What Happened On The Set Of ‘Rust’?

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The set of the film ‘Rust’ in New Mexico. (Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office/MEGA)

The latest project for Alec is the film, Rust, in which he not only stars in but also is credited as one of the producers. A few of the actors who star in the movie alongside him include Supernatural’s Jensen AcklesVikings‘ Travis Fimmel, and Titanic actress Frances Fisher. During filming in New Mexico in Oct. 2021, Alec unfortunately fired a prop gun that held live rounds which, in turn, resulted in the death of Halyna. The film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, was also investigated in connection to the cinematographer’s tragic death.

“Santa Fe County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the Bonanza Creek Ranch movie set of the western Rust, October 21, 2021, when an 911 caller reported a shooting on the set,” police said at the time, per DEADLINE. The late 42-year-old was transported via helicopter to New Mexico’s University of New Mexico Hospital where she subsequently died. The film’s director, Joel Souza, 49, also sustained injuries, however, he survived and was treated at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical facility.

Alec Baldwin’s Charges & Trial

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Halyna Hutchins was the cinematographer killed after being shot on the set of ‘Rust’ in Oct. 2021. (Courtesy of Hutchins Family/MEGA)

Over one year after the tragic incident, Alec was criminally charged on Jan. 19, 2023, for his involvement in the shooting. The producer was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, as disclosed by Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies. If the father-of-seven is found guilty on the first charge, including a misdemeanor negligent use of a firearm charge, he could face up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. The second charge also includes the same prison time and fine, however, it includes a firearm enhancement, which could add an additional five years in jail.

Although the firearm enhancement could’ve prolonged his jail time, D.A. Carmack-Altwies, has since downgraded the charges and removed the firearm enhancement altogether as of Feb. 20, 2023, per CNBC. The jail time has also been downgraded from a minimum of a “minimum of five years” to a “maximum of 18 months.” As a result, a spokesperson for the New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney, released a statement regarding the lessened charges. “In order to avoid further litigious distractions by Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys, the district attorney and the special prosecutor have removed the firearm enhancement to the involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of Halyna Hutchins on the ‘Rust’ film set,” Heather Brewer‘s statement read.

Not only did the Emmy-nominated actor plead not guilty to the involuntary manslaughter charges, but he also “waived his first court appearance,” as reported by ABC News on Feb. 23, 2023. Alec and assistant director David Halls, were both set to appear in court “remotely” on Feb. 24, however, they both filed a waiver for their first court appearance, per the outlet. Finally, District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer set terms to Alec’s conditional release, including that, “he must not possess any firearms, not consume alcohol and have no contact with any potential witnesses unless it’s related to filming the movie.” Hannah’s hearing continued on February 24.

Then, four days after pleading not guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges, it was revealed on February 28 that Alec is being sued by three Rust crewmembers (Ross Addiego, Doran Curtin, and Reese Price), per TMZ. The court records obtained by the outlet revealed that they are taking legal action against the film’s producer for being “3 of 7 people n the church set the day the shooting happened.” In addition, the three film crew members alleged that the movie’s armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed “lacked essential experience.” Finally, the three are suing for “negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress” as they also claimed they were asked to “assist” after Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza were injured. The outlet concluded that they are asking for “unspecified damages.”

On March 14, 2023, The Daily Mail reported that special prosecutor Andrea Reeb announced she’d be leaving the case amid pressure from Alec’s attorney. Given that she personally investigated the incident for the Santa Fe district attorney’s office and found him (and others) responsible for Halyna’s death, her departure from the case is considered a win for the actor.

“It has become clear that the best way I can ensure justice is served in this case is to step down so that the prosecution can focus on the evidence and the facts, which clearly show a complete disregard for basic safety protocols led to the death of Halyna Hutchins,” she said, per the outlet. “I will not allow questions about my serving as a legislator and prosecutor to cloud the real issue at hand.”

Alec’s attorney Luke Nikas had filed a motion in February to have her removed. “Ms. Reeb’s continued service as a special prosecutor in this case is unconstitutional,” he said at the time, arguing that she’s not eligible to be a special prosecutor because she was elected to the New Mexico house back in November. “The legal question is not a close one. She must be disqualified.”

Most recently, his lawyers confirmed to Variety that the prosecutors “are expected to drop manslaughter charges” against Alec as of Apr. 20, 2023. “We are pleased with the decision to dismiss the case against Alec Baldwin and we encourage a proper investigation into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident,” his lawyers, Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro said in the statement to the outlet.

In August 2023, CBS reported that a new forensics report on the gun that was discharged on set and killed Halyna, says Alec allegedly pulled the trigger. The findings were inconsistent with what Alec said happened on set, the outlet further reported, and the results of this analysis could lead to charges being refiled against him, despite charges being dropped earlier this year. New Mexico prosecutors reportedly said they received new information about the incident, which is what warranted the additional forensic examination of the weapon.

Recent court filings revealed that the decision to dismiss the two involuntary manslaughter charges and seek reevaluation of the gun, “was prompted by information suggesting the prop may have been modified without Alec’s knowledge and may have malfunctioned when it discharged,” CBS also reported.

The report was reportedly prepared by firearms expert Lucian Haag and forensics consultant Michael Haag for Santa Fe County special prosecutors Kari T. Morrissey and Jason J. Lewis, the court filings show. It appears in a motion filed Aug. 15, 2023, by attorneys for Rust armorer, Hannah, who is still facing an involuntary manslaughter charge for the fatal shooting. She has pleaded not guilty and the case is scheduled to go to trial in Dec. 2023.

“New facts were revealed that demand further investigation and forensic analysis, ” prosecutors recently said, before a preliminary hearing was set to take place, according to CNN. In a statement, Kari and Jason said the charges against Alec would be dismissed while the investigation and analysis were underway. “This decision does not absolve Mr. Baldwin of criminal culpability and charges may be refiled,” the statement read.

The new forensics report includes images and detailed descriptions of the gun and cartridges, as well as still images of Alec handling a revolver on the Rust set during filming. Written observations of the images reportedly note how his finger appeared to be on or near the trigger as he cocked the gun.

“Although Alec Baldwin repeatedly denies pulling the trigger, given the tests, findings and observations reported here, the trigger had to be pulled or depressed sufficiently to release the fully cocked or retracted hammer of the evidence revolver,” Lucien reportedly wrote in the report.

“The only conceivable alternative” [to the trigger being pulled] “would be a situation in which the trigger was already pulled or held rearward while retracting the hammer to its full cock position,” Lucien continued. “Although unlikely and totally contrary to the normal operation of these single action revolvers, such improper handling, would result in the discharge of a live cartridge.”

“From an examination of the fired cartridge case and the operationally restored evidence revolver, this fatal incident was the consequence of the hammer being manually retracted to its fully rearward and cocked position followed, at some point, by the pull or rearward depression of the trigger,” Lucien also wrote.

In October 2023, it was reported that the prosecutors plan to recharge Alec with involuntary manslaughter, according to a report from NBC News. The sources said that they planned to bring the charges to the grand jury in November 2023. The charges could also lead to an 18-month prison sentence if Alec is found guilty. “It is unfortunate that a terrible tragedy has been turned into this misguided prosecution,” his lawyers told NBC News. “We will answer any charges in court.”

In January 2024, Alec was indicted yet again on involuntary manslaughter charges, according to Variety. Prosecutors had sent the gun for further forensic testing, and it was determined that it could have only been fired if the trigger was pulled. As mentioned above, he can face up to 18 months in prison, if he’s charged. “We look forward to our day in court,” the actor’s lawyers said in a statement.

In February 2024, a judge reassignment took place and led to the First Judicial District Court to cancel the August 6 jury selection date. This means that the trial date has been cancelled, per Entertainment Tonight. This moves also comes just one week after Alec filed a waiver of arraignment in Santa Fe County, New Mexico’s First Judicial District Court, per the same outlet.

Halyna’s family’s lawyer also released a statement to US Weekly on January 26, 2024. “The notion that an actor is not responsible if that actor holds a gun, points it at someone on a movie set, and discharges the weapon flies in the face of common sense and the law,” Gloria Allred told the mag. “Safety protocols may be considered at trial, but they are not the law.”

What Has Alec Said Since The Incident?

Shortly after the fatal incident took place, Alec sat down with Good Morning America host George Stephanopoulos in Dec. 2021, for an in-depth interview regarding the shooting. One of the major things that Alec revealed was that he was not to be held responsible for the “live bullet” in the prop gun. “Someone put a live bullet in a gun, a bullet that wasn’t even supposed to be on the property,” he declared at the time. “Someone is ​responsible for what happened, and I can’t say who that is, but I know it’s not me.”

Alec also added that he was not aware of what had occurred that tragic day on set. “I don’t know what happened on that set. I don’t know how that bullet arrived in that gun. I don’t know,” he continued. “But I’m all for doing anything that will take us to a place where this is less likely to happen again.” The interview took place in three parts, with the final interview airing on Dec. 2, 2021.

Who Else Was Charged?

Alec was not the only member of the Rust film team to be charged either, as David and Hannah also faced charges. On Jan. 31, 2023, the film’s armorer was also charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, according to ABC News, and as previously mentioned her hearing is set to take place on Feb. 24. David has since pleaded “no contest” in regard to the charge of “negligent use of a deadly weapon,” however, the plea agreement is still pending the judges approval.

“The District Attorney and the special prosecutor are fully focused on securing justice for Halyna Hutchins,” Brewer noted in a statement released Jan. 30, 2023. “The evidence and the facts speak for themselves.” On Jan. 19, 2023, Alec’s attorney Luke of Quinn Emanuel stated that Alec would fight the charges brought against him. “This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins’ tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice. Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the movie set. He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds. We will fight these charges, and we will win,” he said in a statement, obtained by Hollywood Life.

Halyna’s husband, Matthew Hutchins, released a statement regarding his wrongful death lawsuit against Alec and the film’s production company in Oct. 2022, via ABC News. “We have reached a settlement, subject to court approval, for our wrongful death case against the producers of Rust, including Alec Baldwin and Rust Movie Productions, LLC. As part of that settlement, our case will be dismissed,” Matthew said at the time. “I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame (to the producers or Mr. Baldwin),” he added. “All of us believe Halyna’s death was a terrible accident. I am grateful that the producers and the entertainment community have come together to pay tribute to Halyna’s final work.”

Rust is set to resume production and will commence filming sometime in spring 2023, per ABC News. The producers revealed earlier in Feb. 2023, that the movie will now be filmed in Yellowstone Film Ranch in Montana, and that Joel will return to direct the project. Matthew will also join the crew as the movie’s executive producer and cinematographer Bianca Cline. Alec, David, and Hannah were not named among those returning to Rust.