The New Mexico District Attorney’s Office has dropped the firearm enhancement charge against Alec Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed following the 2021 on-set shooting death of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. The decision would reduce Baldwin’s potential jail time by at least five years.
Heather Brewer, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office, explained the rationale for dropping the enhancement charges in the manslaughter case against Badwin, saying this would help “avoid further litigious distractions by Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys,” CNN reports. “The prosecution’s priority is securing justice, not securing billable hours for big-city attorneys,” Brewer went on.
The statement is jab at Baldwin and his legal team, which offered a different narrative in a motion to drop the charges last month, chalking them up to a legal oversight that never should have occurred in the first place.
“The prosecutors committed a basic legal error by charging Mr. Baldwin under a version of the firearm-enhancement statute that did not exist on the date of the accident,” they said, ABC News reports.
Baldwin’s team further maintains that since the accident occurred in October 2021, but that the current version of the five-year gun enhancement law didn’t take effect until May 2022, it is not inapplicable. Gutierrez Reed’s attorney, Jason Bowles, also applauded the decision to drop the enhancement as “on the merits.”
Though the move is being called a win for Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed, Baldwin still faces involuntary manslaughter charges, as well a formidable opponent in court as the Hutchins’ family attorney, renowned victims’ rights attorney Gloria Allred, announced a second civil lawsuit against Baldwin on the family’s behalf. “We want accountability and justice for them. It’s as simple as that,” said Allred.
Baldwin was first charged on January 31, 2021 for a shooting that occurred in October 2021 after Baldwin fired a pistol containing live rounds during rehearsal. Though Baldwin has consistently emphasized the shooting was a tragic accident and that he had no idea there was live ammunition in the gun, public response has been widely divided. Some lament the case as over-charged and some cite it as symptomatic of a double-sided legal system that favors the privileged, insisting on the need for Baldwin to take accountability as both the shooter and a producer on the film.
I’ve said this before, and still strongly believe it. The industry has strict protocol when guns are anywhere near set, if those were followed she would be alive today. Her tragedy is the result of failing to maintain a safe working environment in an attempt to save money.
— Ethan Embry (@EmbryEthan) January 19, 2023
Virtually every film we see today has gunfire in it; yet a mistake like this happened on this movie set. Of course actors use guns handed to them—they are following a script. Blaming the actor is bizarre. https://t.co/GR4cwSoMWP
— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates) January 19, 2023
Baldwin, for his part, allegedly plans to participate in resumed filing of Rust this spring, according to the Hollywood Reporter. He will make his first court appearance on Friday.
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