Hannah Gutierrez-Reed: Rust armourer guilty of cinematographer's death

March 7, 2024 12:11 pm

[Source: BBC]

A movie set weapons handler who loaded a gun for actor Alec Baldwin before it fired and killed a cinematographer on the set of Rust in 2021 has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, 26, was found not guilty of a second charge – tampering with evidence.

She could now face up to three years in prison.

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Mr Baldwin also faces a manslaughter trial over Halyna Hutchins’ death.

Ms Hutchins, 42, was killed after a gun Mr Baldwin used in a rehearsal fired a live round on the film’s set in New Mexico.

Jurors heard prosecutors argue that Gutierrez-Reed, who oversaw the film’s weaponry as its armourer, acted recklessly when loading the gun.

Prosecutors said the defendant had failed to ensure the weapon was only loaded with dummy rounds – fake bullets used to look and sound like real ones.

“This case is about constant, never-ending safety failures that resulted in the death of a human being,” prosecutor Kari T Morrissey said during closing arguments on Wednesday.

Ms Gutierrez-Reed was “negligent”, “careless” and “thoughtless” when she failed to notice that a live bullets had mixed with dummy rounds in a box of ammunition on set, Ms Morrissey told the jurors.

One of those bullets was in the firearm that was used by Mr Baldwin, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors also presented evidence that alleged Gutierrez-Reed brought a box of live bullets to the New Mexico film set from her California home. They further said these live rounds slowly spread throughout the set.

Ms Morrissey said she believed the armourer did not intend to bring live rounds to the set, but rather that Ms Hutchins’ death was a case of tragic negligence.

The prosecutor added that Gutierrez-Reed was more “worried about her career” and less about the victims in the aftermath of the shooting.

Gutierrez-Reed did not testify in the two-week trial, but her lawyer, Jason Bowles, argued in closing arguments that prosecutors had failed to prove his client was the sole person responsible for the fatal shooting.

“The [ammunition] boxes don’t matter, because we don’t know what was in them three or four days before,” Mr Bowles told the jury, arguing his client did not know that there were real bullets on set.

Mr Bowles had also argued it was Mr Baldwin who should be prosecuted for the crime, as he was the one holding the gun when it fired. He was also the film’s producer.

“She’s [Ms Gutierrez-Reed] an easy target, the least powerful person on that set. An easy scapegoat,” he said in the trial’s opening remarks.

The jury heard from several witnesses in the last few weeks. That included the film’s director Joel Souza, who was also shot in the incident but survived.

Mr Souza said he remembered looking up at Gutierrez-Reed after he was shot, and hearing her repeatedly say: “I’m sorry, Joel.”

The jury was also shown emotional and distressing footage of the aftermath of the shooting, when the Colt .45 revolver held by Mr Baldwin went off.

It included a video that appeared to show Ms Hutchins’ final moments, with paramedics frantically trying to save her life.

Last year, the movie’s cast and crew finished filming in tribute to Ms Hutchins, with her husband serving as an executive producer.