Judge denies Alec Baldwin's bid to dismiss charge in deadly 'Rust' shooting

ByMeredith Deliso ABCNews logo
Saturday, May 25, 2024
Judge denies Alec Baldwin's bid to dismiss charge in 'Rust' shooting
Alec Baldwin was indicted by a grand jury on involuntary manslaughter in the "Rust" shooting earlier this year, after prosecutors previously dropped the charge.

A New Mexico judge denied Alec Baldwin's motion to dismiss his involuntary manslaughter charge stemming from the 2021 fatal shooting on the set of "Rust" in an order on Friday.

Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer found that the prosecutors did not act in "bad faith" to secure a grand jury indictment, as was alleged in the motion.

Baldwin's trial is scheduled to start in July.

The actor was practicing a cross-draw in a church on the set of the Western film when the Colt .45 revolver fired a live round, fatally striking 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Baldwin, 66, who was also a producer on the film, was indicted by a grand jury on involuntary manslaughter in connection with Hutchins' death earlier this year, after prosecutors previously dropped the charge. He pleaded not guilty.

The ruling followed an at-times heated hearing held remotely on May 17 before Judge Marlowe Sommer.

Baldwin's attorney, Alex Spiro, argued that the prosecution engaged in "bad faith" in securing an indictment in the "high-pressure case" by failing to provide the grand jury with sufficient information or have defense witnesses available to testify.

"It should be dismissed for Mr. Baldwin, or any other person that comes before the grand jury and falls victim of an overzealous prosecutor," Spiro said.

Prosecutor Kari Morrissey told the judge there was no evidence that a "fix was in" or anything "nefarious" on the part of the prosecution occurred regarding the grand jury proceedings.

"I didn't hide any information from the grand jury," she said. "My intention, since we're talking about bad faith, was to ensure that the grand jury got information that was accurate and reliable."

Baldwin's attorneys filed the motion in March, two months after he was indicted by a grand jury.

In the defense's filing, his attorneys accused prosecutors of "unethical disparagement" of Baldwin and of "violating nearly every rule in the book" to secure a grand jury indictment.

"The State did not make Baldwin's witnesses available to testify. Nor did it present the exculpatory and favorable evidence to the grand jury," the motion to dismiss stated.

"The State prosecutors have engaged in this misconduct -- and publicly dragged Baldwin through the cesspool created by their improprieties -- without any regard for the fact that serious criminal charges have been hanging over his head for two and a half years. Enough is enough," the motion, filed in March, stated.

In a response filed in April, prosecutors claimed Baldwin missed concerns about the film's armorer and "compromised safety" on the set by demanding the crew and Gutierrez work faster.

"The combination of Hannah Gutierrez's negligence and inexperience and Alec Baldwin's complete lack of concern for the safety of those around him would prove deadly for Halyna Hutchins," prosecutors stated.

Baldwin's attorneys subsequently filed two other motions to dismiss the indictment that are still before the court, claiming the state destroyed "potentially useful evidence" -- the firearm involved in the shooting -- and failed to allege a criminal offense because Baldwin had no reason to believe the gun might contain live rounds and that the manipulation of the weapon could pose a "substantial risk" to Hutchins.

Prosecutors argued in a response to the former motion regarding the firearm that Baldwin's right to due process was not violated and that the defense failed to provide evidence "demonstrating that the firearm is exculpatory or potentially exculpatory." They said law enforcement "carefully documented" the revolver's condition prior to conducting the accidental discharge test that ultimately damaged parts of it.

In response to the latter motion, prosecutors argued that Baldwin disregarded "substantial and unjustifiable risk" by "violat[ing] decades-old guns safety and set safety standards by pointing the gun at a person, cocking it, and pulling the trigger."

"The facts are simple, guns kill and everyone, including Mr. Baldwin, knows it," the state wrote in its response.

Gutierrez, 27, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced in April to 18 months in prison, the maximum possible, in the shooting.

She appealed her conviction last week.