Alec Baldwin heads to court as Rust manslaughter trial begins

Santa Fe, New Mexico - Actor Alec Baldwin is set to go to trial this week, almost three years after he fatally shot a cinematographer on the set of his movie Rust.

Actor Alec Baldwin is set to go to trial this week, almost three years after he fatally shot a cinematographer on the set of his movie Rust.
Actor Alec Baldwin is set to go to trial this week, almost three years after he fatally shot a cinematographer on the set of his movie Rust.  © POOL / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

The jury will be selected in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Tuesday, and the first hearings are due to take place on Wednesday.

The trial is expected to last around ten days. Baldwin is facing manslaughter charges and could face up to a year and a half in prison if convicted.

In October 2021, 42-year-old camerawoman Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot by a bullet from a gun held by Baldwin on the set of the low-budget western.

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Director Joel Souza was seriously injured by the same bullet, as the Colt used as a prop had contained a real cartridge.

The armorer on the set, 27-year-old Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for the incident and sentenced to 18 months in prison in April. It's still unclear exactly how the gun came to be loaded with live ammunition,l which is banned on film sets.

Baldwin has denied any responsibility and claimed that he was assured the gun wasn't live. He also insists he didn't pull the trigger – an argument that the prosecution describes as "absurd on its face."

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Alec Baldwin has denied any responsibility in the fatal shooting and alleged that he didn't pull the trigger – though the FBI has contradicted this claim.
Alec Baldwin has denied any responsibility in the fatal shooting and alleged that he didn't pull the trigger – though the FBI has contradicted this claim.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Press

According to the prosecution, investigations by the FBI revealed that the gun could not have been operated without pressure on the trigger. Baldwin "shamelessly lied" about his behavior, the prosecution alleges.

The actor's lawyers had tried to avert a trial, arguing, among other things, that the FBI had damaged the gun during their investigation and that the results were, therefore, unreliable. The judge rejected this.

SAG-AFTRA has warned of the potential impact of the trial on the film business, arguing in January that "an actor's job is not to be a firearms or weapons expert."

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The prosecution will likely argue in court that Baldwin's irresponsible behavior on set contributed to the accident. The actor regularly insulted or cursed at those involved in the film shoot for no reason, prosecutor Kari Morrissey wrote in a court document.

As a producer, he also exerted great pressure to complete the film as quickly as possible.

"To watch Mr. Baldwin's conduct on the set of Rust is to witness a man who has absolutely no control of his emotions and absolutely no concern for how his conduct affects those around him," Morrissey said.

Despite the 30 Rock star's legal woes, he and wife Hilaria recently revealed plans to launch their own reality series about their life with their seven children.

Cover photo: Collage: POOL & John Lamparski / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

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