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Alec Baldwin Denied Dismissal of Involuntary Manslaughter Charge by Judge

Alec Baldwin Denied Dismissal of Involuntary Manslaughter Charge by Judge

Alec Baldwin Denied Dismissal of Involuntary Manslaughter Charge by Judge

Alec Baldwin was roundly denied the second of four attempts his legal team is bringing to the court seeking to have his involuntary manslaughter charge dismissed for the accidental shooting death of Rust’s cinematographer. A New Mexico judge ruled on Friday that justice will be served when a jury decides the fate of the actor accused of recklessly killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and gravely injuring the director on the set of the film in 2021.

That Santa Fe jury, set for selection in early July, will decide after hearing the evidence at Baldwin’s upcoming trial, his second for his involvement in the October 2021 shooting death of Hutchins. His defense team argued at a hearing on Friday that the case does not hold water, as Baldwin and everyone on the Rust set was made to understand that the guns on set were filled with dummy bullets. 

“What they have alleged here is not a crime. If he didn’t know of the substantial risk that it had live ammunition in it, he can’t be guilty,” Bash argued. But Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer shut this notion down, saying, “Involuntary manslaughter talks about the defendant should have known of the danger, and I think that’s really at the core.”

New Mexico prosecutors are arguing that Baldwin, the lead actor as well as a producer on Rust, was reckless in not checking the gum himself that day; two actors on the film’s set, she notes, fired dry rounds into the ground to ensure that they were safe. Prosecutor Kari Morrissey also called Baldwin’s decades of experience in film and TV production “circumstantial evidence” in the case, saying he should have known better than to not inspect the gun before pointing it at another person.

In the latest legal move, Baldwin’s defense team is arguing before Judge Sommer that Morrissey withheld from the court an expert’s report that shows “unexplained tool marks” on the seat of the Colt .45 revolver that Baldwin was holding on the film set during rehearsals when it killed Hutchins. Such a report would be key to the defense’s case, as they argue that the marks indicate that the weapon was susceptible to malfunction. 

Baldwin has insisted that he did not fire the trigger when it went off that day, even stating this in a nationally broadcast ABC News interview with George Stephanopoulos. 

The novice armorer who loaded a live bullet into the gun instead of a dummy round has already been found guilty at trial earlier this year and is now serving an 18-month sentence. On Friday, the judge denied a motion for her to be immunized against testifying at Baldwin’s trial; previously in court, she has painted the actor as less than attentive to details on the movie’s set during firearms training. The 30 Rock Emmy winner faces the same prison sentence when his case goes to the jury. 

Another motion to dismiss was heard Friday afternoon, involving the destruction of the gun used in the shooting. Both sides grilled a Santa Fe police detective who oversaw the investigation case and an FBI agent who examined the evidence and performed the test that led to the destruction of the gun that killed Hutchins. The judge did not reach a decision on this motion, as more witnesses will need to be heard on Monday.  

In the fourth motion to dismiss, the defense is claiming that the prosecutor’s “flagrant disregard” of her requirement to turn over relevant evidence to the defense merits that the case be tossed, the defense argues, while saying the prosecutors are playing “hide the ball.” The motion stems from two subsequent reports from weapons expert Lucien Haag following his damning original assessment after he reassembled the rig; that examination, he wrote, indicated that the Colt .45 was in perfect working order and the trigger must have been pulled. 

The defense team says it learned of the two undisclosed reports, the third of which discusses “unexplained tool marks” on the gun, while they were interviewing Haag and his son, in preparation for trial in April and May 2024 — which ended with prosecutors dismissing the involuntary manslaughter charge against the actor after learning that the gun may have been modified; but the charge was subsequently reinstated.

Additionally, Morrissey is accused of withholding a bevy of other evidence in the case until days before the trial began.

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“Regardless of whether the state’s discovery violations have been unintentional (which, under the circumstances, is hard to believe), the state’s singular focus on obtaining Baldwin’s conviction has caused the state to lose sight of its ethical obligations and forgo any efforts at transparency,” the motion states.

Despite the tool marks discovered on the gun, Haag says he stands by his conclusion that the Colt .45’s trigger had been pulled the day of Hutchins’ death.

This motion came a day after prosecutors filed a motion to introduce new evidence into the trial. They now plan to point to photos of Baldwin allegedly being reckless with guns, which includes an image of Baldwin in which his finger is seen inside the gun’s trigger and his thumb is on the gun’s hammer. 

Baldwin will be standing trial for the second time for involuntary manslaughter in Sante Fe on July 10.

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