The New Mexico prosecutor’s office reduces the charges against Alec Baldwin in the trial for the tragedy of ‘Rust’ | Culture | The USA Print

Important legal victory for Alec Baldwin. The Santa Fe County District Attorney’s Office in New Mexico dropped a charge against the actor in the case of the tragedy on the set of the western. Rust. The decision reduces the chances that the actor and producer of the film will be sentenced to prison for the accidental homicide of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, which occurred in October 2021. Prosecutors thus agree with Baldwin’s defense, who argued that the way in which the prosecution interpreted a law passed after the incident, which occurred during the rehearsal of a scene, was “unconstitutional.” The removal of the position also benefits Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the head of the production’s armory.

“The prosecution’s priority is to do justice, not add to the accounting hours of large law firms,” ​​Heather Brewer, a spokeswoman for the Santa Fe district attorney, who is handling the case against Baldwin and Gutierrez, said Monday. Reed. Brewer’s communication, sent to the local newspaper Santa Fe New Mexican, confirmed the decision to withdraw the charge of aggravated possession of a weapon, which can carry a penalty of up to five years in prison. Without this charge, Baldwin faces a maximum sentence of 18 months in jail.

Alec Baldwin’s defense attorneys, however, argued a few weeks ago that the prosecution was relying on a law that was passed statewide in 2022, months after a real bullet killed Hutchins and wounded the director of the tape, Joel Souza. “Prosecutors made a basic legal error by charging Mr. Baldwin with a regulation that did not exist on the day of the accident,” Luke Nikas, one of the actor’s attorneys, wrote in a February 10 motion filed with the court.

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Then, the prosecution had described the defense statement as an “attempt to distract from the negligence and indifference to security measures” that there was on the part of the production members on set. “Even celebrities with their fancy lawyers must be held accountable for their actions,” Brewer said in a statement released that day.

The version of the law that was in force on the day of the incident indicated that aggravated possession of a weapon could be applied when a firearm was “brandished” “to intimidate or injure a person” while committing a non-serious crime. The rule was changed months after the accident. Lawmakers imposed a minimum sentence of five years in prison if the weapon was discharged during the commission of the crime.

The prosecution has ended up agreeing with Baldwin’s legal team. On Friday, the special prosecutor in the case modified the charges in court “to avoid further litigious distractions.” The decision has been celebrated by Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyer, who has considered that the correction reflects “correct ethical standards” on the part of the district attorney.

Baldwin, who remains free, will appear in court for the first time this month. He will do it by videoconference in what will be the first hearings of his reckless murder process. The strategy of his lawyers has been described as aggressive. Lawyers have also tried to get rid of Andrea Reeb, who was named the special prosecutor in the case in January. Reeb is a Republican official serving in the New Mexico House of Representatives. The defense assures that by being part of the legislative branch, she is prevented from also being part of the judicial branch. So far, Reeb has been defended by Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies.

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In late January, Reeb and Carmack Altwies formally filed the charges against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed. Another member of the production, Dave Halls, the assistant director, has pleaded guilty to the charges, thereby avoiding trial. The prosecutors highlighted the “reckless” and “dangerous” conduct of the filming members in the use of the Colt .45 that ended up killing Hutchins. The presence of a real bullet was a flagrant violation of film industry security protocols. During filming, at least five more projectiles were found. Baldwin, however, has defended his innocence by arguing that he used a gun that he thought was unloaded. He at first said that he never pulled the trigger of the revolver, but this was disproved by an FBI investigation.

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