Alec Baldwin Gun That Killed Halyna Hutchins Destroyed By The State, Hearing On Rust Fatal Shooting Reveals; Minitrial Set For Early May Start
The gun that killed Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in October 2021 has been “destroyed,” a lawyer for Alec Baldwin revealed today.
Treated as almost an aside in a virtual hearing Thursday in the criminal case, attorney Alex Spiro told Judge Mary Marlow Sommer that the defense team had recently learned the 1880s prop gun that fatally shot Hutchins and wounded Rust director Joel Souza is basically no more.
“The court, I don’t think is aware of this point, but I think I should tell the court that the firearm in this case, that’s a great subject of it, was destroyed by the state,” the Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan lawyer said. “So, that’s obviously an issue and we’re going to need to see that firearm, or what’s left of it,” Spiro added with withering understatement.
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Neither Judge Sommer, nor Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies responded to Spiro’s statement about the gun. With assertions from his lawyer that absent Baldwin “wanted his day in court,” the brisk session moved on to setting dates for future hearings.
Baldwin’s defense team, the D.A.’s office and the attorney for co-defendant and ex-Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed did not respond to request for comment from Deadline on Spiro’s statement.
It is unclear if a potential hyperbolic Spiro was referring to damage that the gun suffered during FBI testing in the investigation of the tragedy on the Rust set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch. That testing resulted in the internal portions of the gun cracking and more, the Bureau said. Released in August 2022, the FBI’s forensic report also stated that accidental discharge testing determined that .45 Colt (.45 Long Colt) caliber F.lli Pietta single-action revolver needed a trigger pull to fire.
As he told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in a prime-time interview soon after the October 21, 2021 death of Hutchins, Baldwin has always insisted he did not pull the trigger of the gun.
What is clear is the pivotal role as evidence or the lack thereof the gun could play in the upcoming two-week long preliminary examination set to start on May 3 in the Land of Enchantment. If the Judge agrees the prosecution has a strong enough case, the matter will move on to a formal trial later this year.
Following the release of an FBI-assisted investigation by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office last November, Baldwin and armorer Reed were formally charged by prosecutors with two counts of involuntary manslaughter on January 31 over the killing of Hutchins.
With still no indication of how live ammo got on the set of the $7 million budgeted film, those charges initially included an enhancement that came with a mandatory five-year prison stint if Baldwin and/or Reed were found guilty. Under protest from the defendants’ attorneys that the charge was “unconstitutional,” Carmack-Altwies backtracked and dropped that enhancement on February 20.
In that context, the preliminary examination starting in early May, which is a minitrial in all but name, will see prosecutors put forth the gist of their case, as well as call witnesses from an already released list of 46 individuals. Those individuals include law enforcement officials, Rust crew members, including director Souza and first assistant director David Halls, who struck a plea agreement with the D.A. earlier this year. Also on that list is Halyna Hutchins’ husband, who settled a wrongful death suit with Baldin and Rust producers last year and is to serve as an EP on a resurrected production of the indie Western
Noting that they had just received an email on their discovery requests, Baldwin’s NYC-based team asked for confirmation from prosecutors on who would actually be called as witnesses for the preliminary examination. “So we can make sure Mr. Baldwin has a fair opportunity to prepare for this, that the state identify the actual subset of witnesses that they intend to call,” Spiro stated of the “roadmap” he wanted. “That will also allow us to notify and subpoena the necessary witnesses that we need, that they’re not calling or that we need to answer some of these allegations”
Over some rebutting from D.A. Carmack-Altwies, who was suffering from technical glitches throughout today’s Google Meets-held hearing, Judge Sommer agreed. She set an April 17 deadline for prosecutors to provide their true witness list for the preliminary examination.
Before all that, the participants will meet on March 27 for a hearing on Baldwin and Reed’s motions to disqualify special prosecutor Andrea Reed. The defendants want the D.A. appointed Reed removed from the case because of her dual role as a recently elected GOP New Mexico legislator. First Judicial DA Carmack-Altwies has argued in recent court filings that there is no conflict of interest for former Ninth Judicial DA Reed.
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