Alec Baldwin is set to continue working on Rust—despite being charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter over the shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the troubled movie’s set.
Baldwin, the star and producer of Rust, is facing the charges in New Mexico after a gun he was holding discharged on the Western’s set, near Santa Fe, on October 21, 2021. Hutchins was killed and writer-director Joel Souza was injured.
Baldwin has maintained that he was unaware the gun contained live rounds and he has denied pulling the trigger. But New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said on Thursday he will be charged. Armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was in charge of weapons on the set, will also be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.
While production on the movie came to an instant halt following the incident, it was revealed in October that filming was set to resume, with Hutchins’ husband—who had filed a wrongful death lawsuit in February 2022—serving as an executive producer.
Despite the charges that Baldwin is now facing, it has been revealed that work on the film will press ahead, though there will be stringent rules to follow on the set.
Melina Spadone, the attorney for Rust Movie Productions, LLC, told Entertainment Tonight that filming will continue with “on-set safety supervisors and union crew members and will bar any use of working weapons or any ammunition.”
Last February, it was revealed that the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Hutchins’ husband, Matthew Hutchins, had been settled as filming was set to resume.
Matthew Hutchins said in a statement shared with Newsweek: “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.
“The filming of Rust, which I will now executive produce, will resume with all the original principal players on board in January 2023. I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame (to the producers or Mr. Baldwin). 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.”
However, when it was announced that Baldwin would be facing involuntary manslaughter charges last week, the move was applauded by the Hutchins family.
Attorney Brian J. Panish released a statement on behalf of the Hutchins family following the district attorney’s announcement that read: “We want to thank the Santa Fe Sheriff and the District Attorney for concluding their thorough investigation and determining that charges for involuntary manslaughter are warranted for the killing of Halyna Hutchins with conscious disregard for human life.
“Our independent investigation also supports charges are warranted. It is comfort to the family that, in New Mexico, no one is above the law. We support the charges.”
It was announced on Thursday that Rust assistant director David Halls had signed a plea agreement on a charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon. Halls reportedly checked the gun that resulted in Hutchins’ death before handing it to Baldwin. As a result of the plea agreement, Halls received a suspended sentence and six months of probation.
Involuntary manslaughter is a fourth-degree felony in New Mexico. If convicted, each count carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in jail and up to $5,000 in fines.
However, one of the charges Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed face is involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act. A firearm enhancement on the charge makes it more severe with a mandatory penalty of five years in prison.
Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas of the law firm Quinn Emanuel, told Newsweek of the move to charge the actor: “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.”
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