Despite facing involuntary manslaughter charges related to the set of “Rust” killing a cinematographer, Alec Baldwin intends to end production on the film, a source close to the actor told CNN .
Meanwhile, the New Mexico prosecutor planning to charge Baldwin is gearing up for a big trial.
Carmack-Altwies said Thursday that he will charge Baldwin and the gunsmith in the film with involuntary manslaughter, accusing them of failing to follow safety procedures that could have prevented the accident.
Baldwin was holding the prop gun that went off, killing the cinematographer. Halyna Hutchins on the New Mexico set in October 2021.
The actor did not respond to reporters’ requests for comment on the allegations as he entered his Manhattan home on Friday.
Melina Spadone, a lawyer for Rust Movie Productions, confirmed to CNN that the movie “Rust” is “still in the process of being completed” and will have Baldwin in the lead role.
The film will include “on-set safety supervisors and union staff members and will prohibit any use of work weapons or any ammunition,” Spadone said, adding that Joel Souza will continue to direct the film.
What can happen
Carmack-Altwies requested extra money in a letter dated August 30. She received about half of the requested amount and is expected to ask the legislature for the rest.
If the case goes to trial, there is little precedent for a major star to be accused of killing a colleague during film production.
The attention would likely be huge, especially since the shooting took place far from Hollywood.
In the 1980s, director john landis and four associates were acquitted of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the actor’s death Vic Morrow and two children while filming “At the Edge of Reality” .
The trial lasted 10 months and gained global attention.
Some judges said they weren’t dazzled by film industry figures because they lived in Los Angeles.
Instead, they told The New York Times that prosecutors “did not prove that anyone could have predicted the helicopter crash.”
Baldwin has been a major movie and TV star for decades, winning Emmys for “A Fool on TV” and an Oscar nomination for “The Cooler” .
He also starred in “A Secretary of the Future” , “Beetlejuice” and “The Hunt for Red October” and on Broadway.
Furthermore, he is known for publicly championing liberal political causes.
Prosecutors will have to overcome significant challenges, including the varying opinions of experts about the responsibilities of actors and crew members on set, said the senior legal analyst at CNN Elie Honig.
“Remember, this is a criminal case. You need all 12 jurors to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. So I’m not saying there’s no chance here, but this is a really tough case for the prosecution,” Honig said.
Charges will be formally filed by the end of the month, Carmack-Altwies told CNN .
The prosecutor said she will not request the arrests of Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed. Instead, they will be summoned to appear in court in person or virtually, she said.
Baldwin and armorer were responsible, prosecutors say
Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed will face two counts of involuntary manslaughter, but each charge carries a different level of punishment, Carmack-Altwies said when he announced the charges.
A jury would decide which count was most appropriate and, if convicted, they would be sentenced to just one count, the prosecutor said.
In both cases, conviction is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of US$5,000 (R$26,000).
But one charge carries an additional enhancement of firearms — because a gun was involved — and would carry a mandatory five-year prison sentence, the prosecutor said.
Hutchins was killed when a propelled gun Baldwin was holding fired a live bullet, hitting Hutchins in the chest and hitting Souza, the warden, in the shoulder.
Baldwin claimed he never pulled the trigger and was unaware that the gun contained real shells.
Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the gunsmith who loaded the gun, says she believed the bullets were dummy ammunition, according to her lawyer.
Prosecutors, however, say Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed were responsible for checking the prop’s security.
“Every person who handles a gun has a duty to ensure that if they are going to handle that gun, point it at someone and pull the trigger, it will not fire a projectile and kill someone,” Carmack-Altwies told the CNN .
Why Prosecutors Are Filing Charges
Although a medical examiner ruled that Hutchins’ death was an accident, prosecutors argue that “quick and loose” safety standards on set and poor care with firearms contributed to the fatal shooting.
“There was such a lack of safety and security standards on that set,” Carmack-Altwies told CNN adding that the live rounds were mixed with dummy rounds on set.
“Nobody was checking it or at least they weren’t checking it consistently,” he said.
“And then they somehow got loaded into a gun handed over to Alec Baldwin. He didn’t check. He didn’t do any of the things he was supposed to do to make sure he was safe or that anyone around him was safe. And then he pointed the gun at Halyna Hutchins and pulled the trigger.”
Baldwin said he didn’t pull the trigger before the gun went off.
During the FBI’s test of the weapon’s normal operation, the weapon could not be fired without pulling the trigger while the firearm was cocked, an FBI forensic report said.
Eventually, the gun malfunctioned during testing after internal parts fractured, which caused the gun to fire in the cocked position without pulling the trigger, the report said.
In addition to acting in “Rust,” Baldwin was also producing the film.
Prosecutors will charge him with both roles, explained Carmack-Altwies, saying that as a producer, Baldwin had a responsibility to make sure the set was safe.
Ultimately, the prosecutor said, “just because it was an accident doesn’t mean it’s not criminal.”
“Our manslaughter statute covers unintentional murder,” he said.
“Unintentional, that means they didn’t mean to do it. They didn’t intend to kill. But it happened anyway, and it happened through more than mere negligence… They didn’t take due care or circumspection and that’s what happened here.”
Baldwin’s lawyer, Luke Nikas, said the actor was “taken aback” by the allegations, which Nikas called “a terrible miscarriage of justice”.
“Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the movie set. He relied on the professionals he worked with who assured him that the gun had no live ammunition,” he said.
The executive director of the American actors’ union called the anticipated accusations against Baldwin “wrong and uninformed”.
“The allegations clearly indicate a lack of understanding about the standards and expectations of how a movie set works,” Duncan Crabtree-Ireland told Laura Coates of the CNN .
“The fact is that actors are not experts in firearms. Actors cannot and cannot be expected to do final security checks or anything of that nature.”
Gutierrez Reed’s lawyer, Jason Bowles, said: “We expected the charges but they are dead wrong on Hannah – we hope she is found not guilty by a jury and she did not commit manslaughter.”
The Hutchins family said in a statement on Thursday that they support the allegations and “fervently hope that the justice system works to protect the public and hold those who break the law accountable.”
“It is a comfort to the family that in New Mexico, no one is above the law,” the statement said.
Attempts to transfer responsibility
In an interview with CNN in August, Baldwin said he believed responsibility lay with Gutierrez Reed and assistant director Dave Halls, who handed him the gun.
However, Halls and Gutierrez Reed have repeatedly said they are not at fault and accuse Baldwin of trying to shift blame for the crash.
Gutierrez Reed claims he was unaware there were live bullets in the ammo on set and has sued the film’s weapons and ammo supplier and its founder, who deny any wrongdoing.
She claims that real ammunition rounds were mixed with dummy ammunition purchased from the company.
Halls signed a plea deal on the negligent use of a deadly weapon charge that grants him six months probation and a suspended sentence, Carmack-Altwies’ office said.
The Hutchins family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Baldwin and others involved in the film’s production, and reached an undisclosed settlement in the lawsuit in October.
As part of the deal, Hutchins’ husband, Matthew Hutchins, would executive produce “Rust” when filming resumed
Source: CNN Brasil
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