Shocking Turn: Alec Baldwin’s ‘Rust’ Case NOT Dismissed! Trial Moves Full Steam Ahead!

On Friday, a New Mexico judge gave the green light for a criminal trial against actor Alex Baldwin to move forward. The trial is in relation to an accidental shooting that resulted in the death of a cinematographer on the set of the movie “Rust”.

Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer of the New Mexico First Judicial District Court delivered the ruling, allowing the trial to proceed as scheduled.

Baldwin has declared his innocence to the felony charge of involuntary manslaughter, and it is anticipated that his trial will commence with jury selection on July 9 in a Santa Fe courtroom.

Attempts have been made to reach out to Baldwin’s representatives for a statement.

This decision follows several months of legal disputes between Baldwin’s powerful legal team and special prosecutors. At the heart of the dispute is whether or not the prop gun used by the actor-producer was defective.

It has been the aim of prosecutors to demonstrate that Baldwin was the one who pulled the trigger in the fatal 2021 incident, resulting in the death of Halyna Hutchins who was less than four feet away.

Baldwin stated to investigators that the gun simply “went off.” His lawyers have requested for Baldwin’s indictment to be dismissed, alleging errors by investigators.

Prosecutors have disclosed that a witness from the “Rust” crew will testify, affirming that he saw Baldwin pull the trigger that day. They have also presented additional evidence alleging that Baldwin acted recklessly during the filming of the low-budget western movie near Santa Fe, and that as a producer, he had a responsibility to ensure the safety of the film set.

During the making of the low-budget western film, Baldwin, Hutchins, the film’s director Joel Souza, and approximately a dozen other crew members were preparing for a scene. This scene involved Baldwin’s character drawing his pistol from his shoulder holster, followed by a confrontation with law enforcement officers.

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The condition of the Italian-made Pietta Colt .45 – a newly produced fully functional replica of an 1880s pistol – before and after it was tested by an FBI analyst is under dispute.

Baldwin’s lawyers have contended that fractures to the gun’s hammer and sear during the FBI’s testing of the weapon are evidence that the gun was susceptible to accidental discharge. They also argue that Baldwin was not given the opportunity to demonstrate that the weapon was defective.

Baldwin also asserted that the gun was altered prior to its use on “Rust,” and that may have contributed to the unfortunate accident, a claim that prosecutors refute.

“The state knowingly destroyed the most vital piece of evidence in the case without documenting its original condition,” Baldwin’s lawyers Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro stated earlier this month in a court filing.

For a long time, prosecutors have argued that the gun would not have just discharged on its own.

Last year, prosecutors enlisted a highly regarded gun expert from Arizona who examined the weapon and rebuilt the damaged portion. The expert intended to testify at the trial that the revolver was in good condition and that Baldwin would have had to pull the trigger for the gun to discharge.

During a two-day hearing that concluded on Monday, Baldwin’s lawyers and the two special prosecutors spent several hours questioning firearms experts, forensic analysts, and the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s deputy who investigated the shooting.

Baldwin did not know that a live bullet had been loaded into the chamber. He was informed that the gun was “cold,” meaning that it was empty. With support from performers union SAG-AFTRA, his legal team has stated that Baldwin was not responsible for gun safety and was not required to inspect the weapon himself.

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The responsibility of gun safety fell to armorer Hannah Gutierrez, who was found guilty in March of involuntary manslaughter for her actions that led to Hutchins’ death. Gutierrez was sentenced to serve 18 months.

Gutierrez, who is on the state’s witness list to testify against Baldwin, has been uncooperative with prosecutors, as per court testimony.

The investigation into the “Rust” shooting has been plagued with numerous challenges.

Mistakes were made by law enforcement officers and the original team of prosecutors, who eventually stepped aside from the case.

The detective leading the investigation ordered the destructive tests in 2022, despite warnings from the FBI analyst that striking the gun’s hammer with a mallet could damage the weapon.

The special prosecutors have also been accused of hiding evidence by Baldwin’s attorneys, an accusation they have denied. Lawyers Nikas and Spiro submitted a motion earlier this month to dismiss the indictment against Baldwin due to the damage to the gun.

Nikas and Spiro argued that the gun pieces displayed irregularities, including shavings and unidentified “tool marks” on the hammer, and that it was impossible to determine whether the marks were present during the filming of “Rust.”

A year ago, special prosecutor Kari Morrissey and her law partner agreed to drop the charges against Baldwin to further investigate the allegations made by Nikas that the gun had been modified.

After the charge was dropped in April 2023, Baldwin went to Montana to finish filming “Rust.”

Last October, Morrissey proposed a “very favorable plea agreement” to Baldwin to plead no contest to negligent use of a deadly weapon, a misdemeanor.

However, Morrissey retracted the deal a few weeks later.

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Morrissey discovered that Nikas had shared details of the agreement with NBC News — despite the information being confidential. Furthermore, Morrissey found out that Baldwin “had commissioned his own documentary about the death of the woman he killed and was actively pressuring material witnesses in the case to submit to interviews for his documentary.”

Last year, “Rust” assistant director David Halls pleaded no contest to negligent use of a deadly weapon, a misdemeanor, and received a suspended six-month sentence.

The assistant director agreed to pay a $500 fine, attend a firearms safety class, avoid drugs or alcohol, and complete 24 hours of community service. He also agreed to testify in court about the accident, and he shared his memories during Gutierrez’s trial in late February.

Halls is also on the witness list for Baldwin’s defense team.

Times Staff Writer Christi Carras contributed to this report.

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