Prosecutors drop Alec Baldwin charges, citing new evidence

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Prosecutors have formally dismissed manslaughter charges against Alec Baldwin in the death of a cinematographer on the set of the 2021 western movie Rust.

In a surprising turnaround for the 65-year-old A-list actor, special prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis filed a notice in Santa Fe state and district court on Friday dismissing the sole indictment against Baldwin. , said an investigation was ongoing.

The manslaughter charge against the film’s weapons director, Hannah Gutierrez Reid, remains unchanged.

An online status hearing was scheduled for Friday afternoon in state district court in the case against Gutierrez Reed. Initially, the hearing was scheduled to include Baldwin’s case, but that was dropped after the charges against the actor were dismissed.

Friday’s court filings have little time left before the evidence hearings scheduled to begin May 3, prosecutors said in an investigation that revealed new facts requiring further investigation and forensic analysis. It reflected earlier statements.

The special counsel said Thursday that “this decision does not absolve Mr Baldwin of criminal charges, and he may be reindicted.” They declined further comment.

Kate Mangels, a Los Angeles-based entertainment litigator and defense attorney who wasn’t involved in the “Rust” case, said the window of opportunity for further prosecutions against Baldwin is narrowing.

“If they don’t have evidence now, I don’t know what evidence they can get or develop it. It seems that there is an investigation by a certain (co-defendant) witness, various law enforcement agencies, and it seems that this is going through a lot of scrutiny. ”

Baldwin’s attorney was the first to announce that prosecutors were changing course. It’s a sharp turnaround for a Hollywood celebrity who just a few months ago was facing the possibility of months in prison.

Defense attorneys Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro said in a statement: “We are satisfied with the decision to dismiss the lawsuit against Alec Baldwin and encourage a proper inquiry into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident. doing.

Baldwin pointed a pistol at cinematographer Halina Hutchins during rehearsals, and when it happened, he killed her and injured director Joel Souza.

Baldwin states that the gun accidentally fired and had not pulled the trigger. However, an FBI forensic report found that the weapon may not have been fired unless the trigger was pulled.

In March, “Rust” safety coordinator and assistant director David Halls did not contest a conviction for dangerous handling of a firearm and a six-month suspended probation sentence. He agreed to cooperate with further investigations into the fatal shooting.

Lawyers for Halls said Friday that he is happy with Baldwin and wishes the best for the Hutchins family.

“Mr. Halls never believed that Mr. Baldwin should be charged with the crime. It was a tragic accident that was best resolved outside of criminal court,” said defense attorney Lisa M. Torako said in an email.

When the manslaughter charges were announced in January, Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said the case was equally justified under the law and that Hutchins’ death was justified, regardless of the fame or wealth of those involved. said he was accountable for She said the Ukrainian-born cinematographer’s death was tragic and preventable.

A new legal team took over the prosecution of Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed in late March after the original special counsel appointed in the case resigned.

The dismissal of the charges against Baldwin, also a co-producer of “Rust,” abruptly changes the tone of the investigation, said John Day, a Santa Fe-based criminal defense attorney who was not involved in the case.

“People left with bags give the impression that they are the lowest people in that chain,” Day said. is different.”

Baldwin was at the Yellowstone Film Ranch on the set of the rebooted “Rust” production when word of his dismissal arrived. A representative from Rust Movie Productions said it was gearing up to shoot at a new location in Montana on Thursday, marking him 18 months since filming stopped.

Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys said they fully expected her to be exonerated in the judicial process.

Attorneys Jason Bowles and Todd Brion said in a statement: “The truth about what happened will come to light and answer questions we have long sought to answer.

Lawsuits against Baldwin had already dwindled. In February, the weapon hardening for manslaughter was dropped and the maximum sentence was reduced from his five years to his 18 months.

Baldwin’s 40-year career includes starring roles in the early blockbuster “The Hunt for Red October” and the sitcom “30 Rock,” Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed,” and David Mamet’s “Glengarry.” Includes iconic appearances. Glenn Ross” In recent years, he was known for his impressions of former President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live.”

The 65-year-old has worked very little since the shooting and has hardly gone into hiding. posted.

Plans to resume filming were outlined last year by cinematographer widower Matthew Hutchins in a wrongful death lawsuit settlement that would make him executive producer. He said he would return to direct “Rust” for the sake of him.

Despite the settlement, lawyers for the Hutchins family said they welcomed criminal charges against Baldwin when they were filed.

After a scathing safety review by New Mexico regulators detailing ignored complaints and misfires before Hutchins died in October 2021, the production company agreed to pay a $100,000 fine.

Baldwin has not traveled to New Mexico to appear in court, which is not required under state law. He was scheduled for an evidence hearing next month to decide whether to proceed to trial.


Dalton reported from Los Angeles. Contributed by Associated Press writer Susan Montoya Bryan of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Prosecutors drop Alec Baldwin charges, citing new evidence

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