Baldwin's producer role excluded in 'Rust' trial

July 9, 2024 11:20 am

[Source: CNN Entertainment]

In a significant victory for the defense, Alec Baldwin’s role as a producer on the film “Rust” will not be considered during his involuntary manslaughter trial in the fatal on-set shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer ruled Monday.

Baldwin’s position as a producer has consistently been part of the prosecution’s strategy as they have sought to show he had more responsibility and influence on the set than just as an actor. In court Monday, the prosecution said as producer he should have been aware of set safety requirements, while Baldwin’s defense said this evidence was prejudicial and confusing to the jury.

In issuing her ruling, the judge admitted she struggled to understand the prosecution’s arguments.

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The judge said her decision was impacted by the fact that there were other producers on the film and Baldwin himself was not solely responsible for on set decision-making.

Now, with the judge not allowing evidence related to his role as a producer, the jury will consider Baldwin solely as an actor who was holding the gun as part of his role – not as the boss or as a supervisor who was responsible for set safety.

The decision was one of a number of key evidentiary rulings made during a hearing Monday, just one day before jury selection is set to begin in the case. The trial is expected to last about two weeks.

The case stems from the fatal shooting of Hutchins on October 21, 2021, at a New Mexico ranch as they rehearsed the Western film “Rust.” Baldwin was practicing a “cross draw” – pulling a gun from a holster on the opposite side of his body from his draw hand – with a prop gun when it fired a live round, killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.

Prosecutors charged Baldwin with involuntary manslaughter, saying he was negligent and reckless in his handling of the gun. Baldwin has pleaded not guilty and has said he did not pull the trigger and did not know there were live rounds in the firearm.

Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the armorer and props assistant for “Rust” who loaded the firearm, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in March. She was sentenced to the maximum 18 months in prison.

Dave Halls, the assistant director who yelled “cold gun” and handed it to Baldwin, agreed to plead no contest to negligent use of a deadly weapon, the district attorney’s office announced in January 2023.