Breaking Down Alec Baldwin’s “Rust” Indictment 

Baldwin is facing a new indictment of involuntary manslaughter in the accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Why is there a new indictment and what do the experts say? Keep reading to learn more. 

Summary of the Incident 

On October 21st of 2021, Alec Baldwin was in New Mexico rehearsing a scene for the Western movie “Rust ” when the gun he was holding discharged. Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot and killed, and director Joel Souza was injured. The gun was not supposed to be loaded with live ammo, but it was, and tragically Halyna’s life was lost. 

Baldwin immediately denied any wrong-doing in the accident and completed many interviews and appearances stating his case. In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopolous, Baldwin stated, “Someone is responsible for what happened and I can’t say who that is, but I know it’s not me.” He went on to explain that Hutchins instructed him to point the cold gun (a gun that is not loaded) in the direction of her armpit as they were rehearsing camera angles for the scene. 

In October of 2022, Baldwin and Hutchins’ husband, Matthew Hutchins, settled one of the civil cases resulting from the shooting. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed, but the settlement also included Matthew being named as one of the executive producers of the film. 

With plans to finish the film in memory of Halyna, her husband said, “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.” 

In January of 2023, Alec Baldwin and the armorer who was in charge of the firearms on set, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, were both charged with involuntary manslaughter. Three months later, the charges against Baldwin were dropped, but the charges against Gutierrez-Reed remained. Gutierrez-Reed’s trial is set to begin this month, February 2024. 

In January of this year, 2024, a new involuntary manslaughter indictment against Baldwin was announced. A new prosecution team submitted the case to a grand jury who decided there was enough evidence to indict Baldwin on two different counts of involuntary manslaughter, but he can only be convicted of one. 

One of the two counts of involuntary manslaughter accuse Baldwin of “total disregard or indifference for the safety of others”, while the other charge accuses him of negligent use of a firearm. Both of these counts are felony charges which in the State of New Mexico could result in up to 18 months in prison. 

Request for a Speedy Trial…and What the Experts Think 

After the second indictment in January of this year was announced, Baldwin’s legal team pushed for a speedy trial. The reason for this request, as stated by his lawyers, is to minimize the suspicion of Baldwin, and to thwart any lengthy trial that could harm his reputation further. 

Some legal experts believe that if the prosecution does not have a strong case, the defense team will push for a speedy trial knowing the prosecution isn’t ready and thus the case will be dismissed. This is actually what happened with the first indictment of Baldwin back in January of 2023, resulting in the case being dismissed in April of 2023.  

Other accomplished attorney’s believe that a speedy trial may not benefit Baldwin. Criminal defense attorney, Robert J. DeGroot told Fox News Digital:

“A speedy trial may not be in Mr. Baldwin’s best interests. There is currently a trial scheduled for another defendant who was the ‘armorer’ at the location. What explanation she may have for the presence of live rounds, creating a ‘hot gun’ situation, would have an immediate impact and collateral effect on Mr. Baldwin’s case.” 

DeGroot further explained, “Having that trial and seeing what implications the evidence would have on Mr. Baldwin’s position, both factually and legally, is of tantamount importance. Mr. Baldwin’s team would have a free preview of the state’s case and could then plan accordingly.”

As Gutierrez-Reed’s case moves forward, the urgency to rush Baldwin’s case through diminishes. DeGroot mentioned Baldwin’s case, “…has lost its immediacy and reasonable attempts to analyze the evidence and have experts test the gun are much more important than a speedy trial for Mr. Baldwin.” 

DeGroot continued, “I don’t think a speedy trial benefits anyone at this point. The dust will settle significantly with the verdict in the first trial. There are also questions about the main piece of physical evidence, the firearm, which has been given to the FBI and may be altered from its original state by the replacement of certain parts and components. It may be impossible to test the gun forensically in the condition it was in at the time of the tragic shooting.” 

It seems as if Baldwin’s legal team may be holding back as news of the indictment moving forward has slowed. The results of Gutierrez-Reed’s trial will undoubtedly have an impact on these new charges against Baldwin, as DeGroot mentioned. 

This case is bound to influence how film’s prepare, plan, and carry out future scenes that include gunfine. Halyna Hutchins death was an accident, however one that may have easily been avoided. 

The Law Offices of Robert J. DeGroot is here to address any of your criminal defense questions. Reach out to us today!