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Judge presiding Alec Baldwin case deals major blow to prosecutors

Actor Alec Baldwin received a legal win ahead of his trial, as the judge presiding over the case ruled prosecutors could not reference his producing role. Baldwin is facing an involuntary manslaughter charge after he was involved in the 2021 on-set shooting for the film Rust, which resulted in the death of 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna […]

Actor Alec Baldwin received a legal win ahead of his trial, as the judge presiding over the case ruled prosecutors could not reference his producing role.

Baldwin is facing an involuntary manslaughter charge after he was involved in the 2021 on-set shooting for the film Rust, which resulted in the death of 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and the injury of director Joel Souza. On Monday, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer sided with the defense and ruled that evidence of Baldwin’s role as a producer has no relation to his charge of involuntary manslaughter.

“I’m having real difficulty with the state’s position that they want to show that as a producer he didn’t follow guidelines and therefore, as an actor, Mr. Baldwin did all these things wrong,” Sommer said. “The probative value is not substantially outweighed by unfair prejudice and confusion to jurors.”


In this image taken from video released by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, Alec Baldwin speaks with investigators following a fatal shooting on a movie set in Santa Fe, New Mexico. (Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office via AP, File)

Prior to this ruling, prosecutors contended Baldwin was “emboldened” by his role as a producer on the film, which placed the cast members, including Hutchins, at risk. They also argued that Baldwin was “keenly aware of his duties to observe set safety rules and orderly conduct on set,” according to court papers.

Baldwin was present in the courtroom during the judge’s ruling, though he did not react to it. He has pleaded not guilty and has maintained that he was unaware that the gun he had been holding had live ammunition or that he pulled the gun’s trigger.

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Special prosecutor Kari Morrissey said she was not “particularly concerned” about the judge’s decision.

The actor’s defense team will make the case that a performer is not responsible for checking the bullets of the gun for live rounds, an argument Baldwin’s union, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, has supported.

This aerial photo shows part of the Bonanza Creek Ranch film set in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Oct. 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Jury selection will begin Tuesday, with opening statements set for Wednesday. The trial as a whole is projected to conclude on July 19. 

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A court filing from last month claimed that Baldwin “engaged in horseplay with his gun” and “fired a blank round at a crew member” prior to Hutchins’s death. Other claims in the court filing said Baldwin was distracted during firearms training because he was talking to his family on FaceTime.

In April, Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, 27, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, with the judge stating that she “alone” was responsible for turning “a safe weapon into a lethal weapon.” Prosecutors argued in the case that Gutierrez-Reed had “repeatedly” failed to maintain proper firearm safety, which led to Hutchins’s death.

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