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Prosecutors seek to recharge Alec Baldwin in the 'Rust' movie shooting

Alec Baldwin spoke to reporters in 2021 about the shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
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Alec Baldwin spoke to reporters in 2021 about the shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Special prosecutors say they plan to present the New Mexico Grand Jury with a criminal case against Alec Baldwin in the fatal shooting of the cinematographer on the movie set of Rust.

Baldwin was one of the producers of the Western movie, which was being filmed on a ranch outside Santa Fe in October of 2021. As an actor, he was holding the gun that went off during a rehearsal. Baldwin pointed the Colt .45, which was not supposed to have been loaded, directly at the camera, and the bullet that went off killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza.

Baldwin has long maintained he should not be held responsible for the shooting. He told authorities and reporters that he remembers pulling back the hammer of the gun, but not the trigger.

Five months ago, the special prosecutors dropped involuntary manslaughter charges against him, saying they were informed the gun might have been modified before the shooting and malfunctioned. But they left open the possibility of refiling the case against Baldwin.

Since then, the prosecutors reportedly received a new analysis of the gun that was used.

"After [an] extensive investigation over the past several months, additional facts have come to light that we believe show Mr. Baldwin has criminal culpability in the death of Halyna Hutchins and the shooting of Joel Souza," read a statement by attorneys Kari T. Morrissey and Jason J. Lewis. "We believe the appropriate course of action is to permit a panel of New Mexico citizens to determine from here whether Mr. Baldwin should be held over for criminal trial."

Baldwin's attorneys, Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro responded to the news in their own statement. "It is unfortunate that a terrible tragedy has been turned into this misguided prosecution," they wrote. "We will answer any charges in court."

Meanwhile, the film's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, is set to go on trial in February. She has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering in the case.

Last Spring, the film's assistant director and safety coordinator David Halls pleaded no contest to unsafe handling of a firearm and received a suspended sentence of six months of probation.

The legal saga has continued for years; Among other twists and turns, the initial special prosecutorand district attorney both resigned. The cinematographer's widower, Matthew Hutchins dropped a wrongful death lawsuit against Baldwin. As part of theagreement, he was made an executive producer of Rust. The film's remaining scenes wrapped in Montana in May.

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Mandalit del Barco
As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.