Health and Wellness

‘Rust’ film gunsmith Hannah Gutiérrez sentenced for fatally shooting Halyna Hutchins on set; Alec Baldwin’s trial is next

A movie gunsmith received the maximum sentence of 18 months in prison for involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of a cinematographer by Alec Baldwin on a Western film set, as authorities now focus on prosecuting him himself. Baldwin.

A New Mexico judge ruled Monday that Hannah Gutierrez-Reed’s recklessness amounted to a serious violent crime, although he saw little evidence of genuine remorse on the part of the defendant since her conviction in March. Prosecutors blame Gutierrez-Reed for unintentionally bringing live ammunition to the set of “Rust,” where it was expressly prohibited, and for failing to follow basic gun safety protocols.

Attention now turns to Baldwin’s upcoming trial on a manslaughter charge for the October 2021 death of Halyna Hutchins at a movie ranch outside Santa Fe.

Baldwin, the film’s lead actor and co-producer, was pointing a gun at Hutchins during a rehearsal when the gun went off, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza. Baldwin has pleaded not guilty and says he pulled the hammer, but not the trigger, and fired the gun.

Here are some things to know as the “Rust” case against Baldwin approaches:

Prosecutors on Monday described a “cascade of security violations” on the film’s set that only begins with Gutierrez-Reed.

At sentencing, Gutierrez-Reed said he had tried to do the best he could on set despite not having “the appropriate time, resources and personnel,” and that he was not the monster people said he was.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, former gunsmith from the movie “Rust,” listens to closing arguments in her trial in district court, Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Luis Sánchez Saturno/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP, Pool, File

The judge reviewed a checklist of Gutierrez-Reed’s security failures, pointedly answering her own questions.

“Did you have enough time to safely load the gun? A lot,” the judge said. “Did you load the gun? Yes, with dummies and a real bullet. Did you check what you were loading? No.”

Hutchins, who was 42 when he died, grew up on a remote Soviet military base and worked on documentaries in Eastern Europe before studying film in Los Angeles and embarking on a promising film career.

Director of photography Halyna Hutchins died and director Joel Souza was injured on set while filming the movie “Rust” in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on October 21, 2021.

Court testimony also included calls for justice and a punishment that would instill greater responsibility for safety on film sets.

Hutchins’ Ukrainian relatives are demanding damages from Baldwin for his death in connection with the shooting. Attorney Gloria Allred represents Hutchins’ parents and sister and says the family supports Baldwin’s criminal prosecution.

“No one has ever come to apologize to me,” Hutchins’ mother, Olga Solovey, said in a tearful video testimony shown at Gutiérrez-Reed’s sentencing.

Filming on “Rust” moved to Montana after Hutchins’ death under an agreement with her husband, Matthew Hutchins, that made him executive producer.

Prosecutors dismissed an earlier manslaughter charge against Baldwin after they were told the gun he was holding may have been modified before the shooting and not function properly.

A new analysis of the gun cleared the way for prosecutors to restart the case. A grand jury indicted Baldwin on the same charge in January. The indictment alleges that Baldwin caused Hutchins’ death either through negligence or “total disregard or indifference” to safety.

If convicted, the charge carries a possible prison sentence of up to 18 months.

Baldwin’s defense attorneys are urging the judge to dismiss the grand jury indictment, accusing prosecutors of “unfairly stacking the deck” in grand jury proceedings that diverted attention from exculpatory evidence and witnesses.

Special prosecutors deny those allegations and accuse Baldwin of “brazen” attempts to escape guilt, highlighting contradictions in Baldwin’s statements to authorities, workplace safety regulators and the public in a televised interview.

An FBI expert testified at Gutiérrez-Reed’s trial that the revolver used by Baldwin was fully functional and had safety features when it arrived at an FBI laboratory. The expert said he had to hit the fully cocked gun with a sledgehammer and break it so he could fire it without pulling the trigger.

Defense attorney Jason Bowles said Gutierrez-Reed will appeal the judge’s ruling and the sentence against him.

Bowles said at the sentencing that “there were multiple failures in the system by several people. Some of those people have appeared in court… Some have not yet appeared in court. At least one individual will be tried in July.”

Gutierrez-Reed was acquitted of one count of tampering with evidence at trial, but still faces another felony charge in separate proceedings over allegations that she brought a gun to a bar in downtown Santa Fe.

But special prosecutor Kari Morrissey says she reviewed nearly 200 phone calls Gutierrez-Reed had made from jail over the past month. She said she hoped there would come a time when the defendant would take responsibility for Hutchins’ death or express genuine remorse, but “that time has never come.”

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