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Jury selection begins for the trial of the specialist responsible for weapons in the film 'Rust'

2024-02-22T03:31:26.778Z

Highlights: The trial against Hannah Gutierrez Reed began this Wednesday in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the case of the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Baldwin has also pleaded not guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter in a separate case. Jury selection for the 12 jurors began with a list of 70 Santa Fe area residents, including non-English speakers, including a welder, a professor, a graduate student and a mother who supports six children. Prosecutors plan to present evidence that Gutierrez Reed put real bullets in the gun that killed Hutchins after unknowingly entering a place where bringing them was expressly prohibited.


The trial against Hannah Gutierrez Reed began this Wednesday in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the case of the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was shot by actor Alec Baldwin in October 2021 during the filming of the film.


By Morgan Lee -

The Associated Press

New Mexico prosecutors sought accountability for the 2021 death of a cinematographer who was shot dead by actor Alec Baldwin during the filming of the movie

Rust

.

Before Baldwin's case moves forward, the person in charge of the weapons that were being used in the filming is on trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence.

Jury selection for the trial of Hannah Gutierrez Reed began Wednesday in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Gutierrez Reed has pleaded not guilty to the charges and maintains that he is not directly responsible for the death of Halyna Hutchins.

Baldwin has also pleaded not guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter in a separate case.

Screenshot of a video provided by the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office, following the shooting that claimed the life of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, on October 21, 2021, in New Mexico.

AP

The selection process for the 12 jurors began with a list of 70 Santa Fe area residents, including non-English speakers, including a welder, a professor, a graduate student and a mother who supports six children.

A prosecutor began with questions for them about their exposure to intense media coverage and social media conversations about the case.

Prosecutors plan to present evidence that Gutierrez Reed put real bullets in the gun that killed Hutchins after unknowingly entering a place where bringing them was expressly prohibited.

Authorities have stated that Gutierrez

missed multiple opportunities to ensure security on the set

where filming took place.

Defense attorneys have said they have evidence that will prove otherwise.

The evidence and testimony have implications for Baldwin, who was pointing a gun at Hutchins during an October 2021 rehearsal outside Santa Fe when the cinematographer was killed and director Joel Souza was injured.

Accused of involuntary manslaughter

Gutierrez, stepdaughter of renowned sniper and weapons consultant Thell Reed, was 25 years old at the time of Hutchins' death.

Rust

was her second job as a weapons specialist in a feature film.

The young woman faces up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine if convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

The tampering with evidence charge stems from allegations that she handed a small bag of possible narcotics to another team member after the shooting so that she would not be detected by law enforcement.

Her lawyers claim that this accusation is

an attempt by prosecutors to tarnish

their client's image.

The bag was thrown away without its contents being checked, according to defense lawyers.

More than 40 people are listed as witnesses during the trial which is scheduled to last until March 6.

The weapon

Authorities located six bullet casings on the movie set in places such as a box, a gun belt and a holster Baldwin was carrying.

The actor has said that he assumed that the gun only had blank cartridges.

Special prosecutors have argued in court papers that Hutchins died because of a series of negligence by Gutierrez.

They added that Hutchins should have realized that these were real bullets and taken action before the incident.

Gutierrez's lawyers have stated that their client has been unfairly made a scapegoat.

They have claimed that the real bullets arrived at the scene from an Albuquerque-based supplier of test bullets.

They have also noted that an environment more conducive to safety lapses was uncovered by an investigation by state workplace inspectors, something they go beyond Gutierrez.

Additionally, the young woman is accused in another case of bringing a gun to a bar in downtown Santa Fe, which violates state law.

Her lawyers indicated that this accusation has been used to try to pressure her client into making a false confession about the handling of live ammunition at the

Rust

filming location .

Safety at work

Gutierrez was responsible for the storage, maintenance and handling of firearms and ammunition on set and for training cast members who would handle firearms, according to state workplace safety regulators.

Real bullets are usually distinguished from fake ones by a small hole in the cartridge, which is a giveaway, and indicates that there is no explosive inside, or if they are shaken and you can hear the metallic noise of a pellet inserted inside.

Another feature of fake cartridges is the absence of the primer or the presence of holes in the bottom of the cartridge.

The company Rust Movie Productions paid a fine of $100,000 to the state after a critical report about security flaws that violated industry protocols.

The report included testimony that production managers

took limited or no action after two

mistaken shots were fired on set, before Hutchins was shot.

Prosecutors urged the judge to keep the regulators' findings out of the trial because they could be used to argue that

Rust

management was responsible for the security failures, not Gutierrez.

Last week, the judge in the case sided with Gutierrez.

The report noted that the production company did not develop a protocol to ensure that real bullets were kept away from filming, and that it did not give the weapons specialist enough time to do a thorough inventory of the ammunition.

Baldwin's position

Baldwin, lead actor and co-producer of

Rust

, was charged in January with involuntary manslaughter.

He has previously stated that he pulled the hammer of the gun – not the trigger – and the gun discharged.

The indictment against Baldwin establishes two alternative criteria for prosecution, one based on negligent use of a firearm and another linked to negligence without due caution or "circumspection," also defined as "total disregard or indifference to the safety of others".

Legal experts affirm that this latest rule could expand the investigation beyond the handling of the weapon by the actor.

In April, prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis initially dismissed the manslaughter charge against Baldwin, saying they had been informed that the gun may have been modified before the shooting and therefore malfunctioned.

A more recent analysis of the gun concluded that

"the trigger had to be squeezed or depressed

enough to release the fully retracted hammer of the test revolver."

The industry-wide guidelines that applied to

Rust

say to "treat all firearms as if they were loaded."

No date has been set for Baldwin's trial.

Source: telemundo

All news articles on 2024-02-22

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