Alec Baldwin pleads not guilty to involuntary manslaughter over Rust shooting that left cinematographer dead

1 February 2024, 05:24

Alec Baldwin could face an involuntary manslaughter charge
Alec Baldwin could face an involuntary manslaughter charge. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Kit Heren

Alec Baldwin has denied an involuntary manslaughter charge over the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Western film Rust in 2021.

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Baldwin, a co-producer of the film, was pointing a gun at Hutchins during a rehearsal on the set outside Santa Fe when it went off, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza.

If convicted, Baldwin could face 18 months behind bars.

He pleaded guilty not guilty, as he waived his right to an arraignment - meaning he did not have to appear in court to enter a plea, and a lawyer could do it on his behalf.

Baldwin was allowed to remain free without having to post bail.

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Alec Baldwin on the Rust set
Alec Baldwin on the Rust set. Picture: Alamy

Baldwin was first charged over the fatal incident in January 2023, before the charges were dropped because of evidence suggesting the gun had been modified to allow it to fire without its trigger being pulled.

But prosecutors picked up the case again after new tests showed this may not be the case.

The gun analysis stated that "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".

Baldwin has said he pulled back the hammer - but not the trigger - and the gun fired.

Halyna Hutchins
Halyna Hutchins. Picture: Getty

The weapons supervisor on the set, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering in the case.

Her trial is scheduled to begin this month.

Rust assistant director and safety co-ordinator David Halls pleaded no contest to a conviction for unsafe handling of a firearm in March and received a suspended sentence of six months of probation.

He agreed to co-operate in the investigation of the shooting.

Following the incident, there were several civil lawsuits seeking compensation from Baldwin and producers of Rust centred on accusations that the defendants were lax with safety standards, which Baldwin and other defendants have disputed.

The cases included wrongful death claims filed by Ms Hutchins' family. Some of the people bringing those cases are members of the film's crew.

Judges recently agreed to pause hold several civil lawsuits.

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