Jury selected in Alex Baldwin manslaughter trial for Rust movie shooting

Santa Fe, New Mexico - Alec Baldwin's involuntary manslaughter trial over a fatal shooting on the set of Western movie Rust began Tuesday with the selection of a jury, who will now decide if a crew member's death was his fault.

Actor Alec Baldwin (r.) leaves the courthouse after the first day of his trial for involuntary manslaughter in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Tuesday.
Actor Alec Baldwin (r.) leaves the courthouse after the first day of his trial for involuntary manslaughter in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Tuesday.  © Frederic J. BROWN / AFP

The Hollywood A-lister was pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal in 2021 when it fired a live round, killing her and wounding the movie's director.

Baldwin says he did not know the gun was loaded and did not pull the trigger. Prosecutors say he broke basic gun safety rules and acted recklessly on set.

Dressed in a dark suit and tie, and wearing thick-rimmed glasses, Baldwin arrived at the courthouse Tuesday with his wife Hilaria, and one of their seven young children.

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His brother Stephen, another Hollywood actor, also attended. The family did not speak to the media assembled from around the world outside the courthouse in New Mexico.

Baldwin is world-famous for roles including the hit comedy 30 Rock as well as his scathing impersonations of Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live.

His case has garnered global attention, while sharply polarizing public opinion.

Sympathetic observers view Baldwin as a victim who has been pursued by prosecutors in part due to his status as a celebrity and liberal darling.

Others see the death as the easily avoidable result of a movie star's allegedly unpredictable behavior during filming.

Alec Baldwin lawyer grills potential jurors for Rust shooting trial

(L-R) Lawyer Alex Spiro, actor Alec Baldwin, lawyer Luke Nikas, and lawyer Heather LeBlanc participate in a pretrial hearing in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Monday.
(L-R) Lawyer Alex Spiro, actor Alec Baldwin, lawyer Luke Nikas, and lawyer Heather LeBlanc participate in a pretrial hearing in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Monday.  © Ross D. Franklin / POOL / AFP

Jury selection was completed Tuesday.

Underlining the challenges inherent to high-profile cases, only a couple of the dozens of potential jurors raised their hands when asked if they had not previously heard or read anything about the Rust shooting.

"Maybe he played a role in a movie you didn't like? Maybe he did a comedy routine or an imitation you didn't like?" Baldwin's lawyer Alex Spiro asked while grilling potential jurors.

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"I need to know if any of you have a view of him... that's going to cause you to come in and lean against him in some way."

Potential jurors were grilled Tuesday on whether they are gun owners, have strong views on gun control, or have worked in the movie industry.

After a full day, marred by delays due to technical issues with the courthouse's audio system, a group of 16 jurors – including alternates – was chosen and sworn in.

The eleven women and five men will determine Baldwin's fate.

Opening arguments are due to start Wednesday. The entire trial is scheduled to conclude Friday of next week, with jury deliberations to follow.

Cover photo: Frederic J. BROWN / AFP

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