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'Rust' armorer found guilty in Alec Baldwin shooting case

March 7, 2024

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed has been found guilty in Halyna Hutchins' fatal shooting and faces up to 18 months in prison. She was taken into custody ahead of her sentencing, which is not expected until next month.

Defendant Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, former armorer on the set of the movie "Rust", walks back to her seat after speaking with District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer before her trial at District Court,
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed, the weapons supervisor on the set of the film, were charged in January with felony involuntary manslaughter.Image: Luis Sánchez Saturn0/Santa Fe New Mexican/AP/picture alliance

A jury convicted armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed on Wednesday of involuntary manslaughter relating to the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film "Rust" in 2021.

Actor Alec Baldwin, a producer and actor on the film, was holding a Colt .45 during rehearsals for the low-budget Western in New Mexico when it discharged a live round, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

Gutierrez-Reed was supposed to load Baldwin's revolver with dummy rounds, but one round was live.

The involuntary manslaughter charge against Gutierrez-Reed carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Gutierrez-Reed cleared of evidence tampering

The jury in New Mexico took just three hours to reach their decision following ten days of testimony.

However, they acquitted Gutierrez-Reed on a second charge of evidence tampering.

The trial had focused on whether the inexperienced armorer endangered fellow crew and cast members in her handling and supervision of firearms on set. 

After the verdict, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer remanded Gutierrez-Reed in custody before her sentencing, which is not expected before next month.

Her attorney, Jason Bowles, said afterward that Gutierrez-Reed would appeal the conviction.

Actor Alec Baldwin to be charged in 'Rust' set death

What led to the fatal shooting?

Prosecutors said earlier at trial that Gutierrez-Reed unknowingly loaded live ammunition into a reproduction Colt .45 revolver that  Baldwin was using on the set at a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe.

The prosecution alleged that Gutierrez-Reed unwittingly carried live ammunition onto the set of "Rust," asserting that the rounds remained undetected for a minimum of 12 days leading up to the tragic shooting incident.

They contended she repeatedly skipped or skimped on standard gun safety protocols that might have detected the live rounds.

"This case is about constant, never-ending safety failures that resulted in the death of a human being and nearly killed another," said New Mexico state special prosecutor Kari Morrissey in her closing statements earlier Wednesday.

New Mexico's worker safety agency in 2022 fined the company, Rust Media Productions, the state's maximum possible penalty for ignoring industry firearm safety guidelines.

Baldwin facing own trial over involuntary manslaughter

Alec Baldwin wearing a hat looks to the left of the camera
Alec Baldwin remused filming "Rust" in April 2023 and concluded in May 2023Image: Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office/ZUMAPRESS/picture alliance

Baldwin pleaded not guilty to his own involuntary manslaughter charge in February after being indicted by a grand jury on January 19, 2024.

The US actor has repeatedly denied responsibility for the shooting, insisting that he did not pull the trigger of the gun.

Baldwin was originally charged with the shooting in January 2023 but those charges were dropped a few months later with evidence showing the revolver's hammer might have been modified to enable it to fire without someone pulling the trigger.

However, new charges were filed after an independent forensic test concluded that Baldwin would have needed to pull the trigger of the revolved he was using during the rehearsal in order for it to fire the live round that killed Hutchins.

His trial is expected in July.

km/lo (AP, AFP, Reuters)