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Alec Baldwin’s ‘Rust’ Lawyers Claim He’s a Victim of Agenda-Driven District Attorney

Alec Baldwin’s ‘Rust’ Lawyers Claim He’s a Victim of Agenda-Driven District Attorney

Alec Baldwin is either a man who recklessly violated the “cardinal rule” of gun safety or a “shiny object” for a couple of New Mexico prosecutors who don’t have a case. Those are the arguments special prosecutor Erlinda Ocampo Johnson and Baldwin’s defense attorney Alex Spiro made Wednesday morning as Baldwin’s involuntary manslaughter trial got underway in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

With his brother Stephen and wife, Hilaria, seated in the courtroom behind him, Baldwin watched as Johnson told the jury that the 30 Rock star should be held criminally liable in the death of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Baldwin “played make believe with a real gun and violated the cardinal rule of firearm safety” Johnson said, laying out how the state plans to use video, ballistics evidence and expert testimony in its case against the actor. “He pointed the gun at another human being, cocked the hammer and pulled the trigger in reckless disregard for Ms. Hutchins’ safety.”

While Johnson laid out a case against Baldwin as a reckless man with a gun, Spiro asked the jury to consider him as something else entirely: a lifelong actor with a gun. “He’s Harland Rust,” Spiro said, naming Baldwin’s character in the indie Western. “He’s an outlaw running for his life. His mind is somewhere else, in the being of another, a century away, an outlaw.”

Spiro attempted to appeal to the jury as an audience, referencing movies like King Kong, Superman, Platoon and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. “Movies and magic have always been closely associated,” Spiro said. “The evidence will show that guns are in movies because guns are in peoples’ lives.”

Spiro told the jury that it was not Baldwin’s job to check the gun, that that responsibility belonged to assistant director Dave Halls and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. The defense attorney narrated over footage of the scene the Rust crew were filming when Hutchins was shot. “It’s a fake church,” Spiro said. “The actors are in costumes. And they yell out ‘cold gun.’ It means that no one need worry. It means it’s empty, inert, cosmetic, can do no harm. Cold guns can’t hurt people. That’s why these artists are carrying on in their art. It was obviously a tragic accident but Alec committed no homicide. He was just acting as he has done for generations and it was the safety apparatus that failed them all.”

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Gloria Allred, who is representing Halyna Hutchins’ mother and sister in a civil case, sat behind the prosecutors holding a framed photograph of the cinematographer with her mother and son, Andros.

Once opening arguments were finished, prosecutors began their case by questioning Deputy Nicholas Lefleur, one of the first officers on the scene, and showing footage from Lefleur’s lapel camera. “Halyna deep breath, deep breath, Halyna. Good girl. There you go. Good girl,” a medic says in the footage from LeFleur’s camera, which shows the 42-year-old cinematographer on the floor of the church set after the shooting.” The footage shows Baldwin talking to Lafleur outside the church.. “I was the one holding the gun” he says.

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