Prosecutors will need a mountain of evidence to cast Alec Baldwin as a criminally negligent gunman, skeptical criminal defense attorneys said on Friday, as Hollywood appeared to rally around the often polarizing actor.
Baldwin and “Rust” gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez-Reed will be charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the on-set murder of director of photography Halyna Hutchins, New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said. On thursday.
Both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed have denied wrongdoing and vowed to fight the allegations.
Baldwin claimed he did not fire the shot that killed Hutchins on October 21, 2021, on the western film’s New Mexico set.
But prosecutors insist they have FBI lab reports that show Baldwin fired the fatal shot.
“There is more than enough evidence to prosecute this case. If I were sitting there while the DA and the FBI came back to me and said you had to use force to press the gun’s trigger (to fire), then I probably would have too.” prosecuted the case,” said Joshua Kastenberg, a law professor at the University of New Mexico and a former U.S. Air Force attorney and judge.
“But I will say this: it is really difficult to prove a case like this.”
Carmack-Altwies and Special Prosecutor Andrea Reeb said Thursday they don’t know how a real bullet ended up in the gun and will likely never know the source.
“There’s no way this jury can’t put some kind of responsibility on the state: ‘Wait a minute, you want me to put responsibility on an actor (Baldwin), but you can’t even tell me how the live round got there?” , said Ahmad Assed, an Albuquerque-based criminal defense attorney.
“Is there some intentional act that put that one alive that we don’t know anything about? The state has not clarified that issue.”
Prosecutors called questions about the source of the bullet “fake herring” and attributed Hutchins’ death to the defendants’ alleged criminal negligence in failing to check the weapon.
“But if I’m arguing for closure, I say, ‘Jury members, the DA doesn’t even know how this gun accidentally became a dangerous weapon,'” said Danny Cevallos, a legal analyst for NBC.
“‘They don’t know who’s responsible for putting a live spin on the set. Isn’t the real villain?'”
Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas, said the actor “had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the set. He relied on the professionals he worked with, who assured him that the gun did not have live ammunition. We will fight these accusations and we will win.”
A lawyer for Gutierrez-Reed has also vowed to prove his client not guilty.
“She did not commit involuntary manslaughter,” Jason Bowles said in a statement. “These allegations are the result of a very flawed investigation and an inaccurate understanding of all the facts. We intend to bring the full truth to light and believe that Hannah will be cleared of any wrongdoing by a jury.”
Veteran actress and “Rust” co-star Frances Fisher said on Friday she believes the wrong people are being accused.
She urged prosecutors to stop “victim blaming” and asked rhetorically “how about investigating who put the real bullet in the gun?”
“No one is asking who put the real bullet in the propellant weapon,” tweeted Fisher, best known for her role in “Titanic”. “That’s the point. Everything else is blame and scapegoat.”
Hutchins’ death has raised questions about the use of firearms on the sets of TV shows and movies.
But Los Angeles firearms instructor Scott Reitz, who also works as a weapons consultant for film and TV productions, insisted that proper protocols are well known and followed in Hollywood.
“He (Baldwin) has professionals who tell him, ‘You’re ready to go.’ The protocols are there, they just have to be followed,” said Reitz, a University of New Mexico alumnus and former LAPD SWAT officer.
“An actor depends on professionals who handle the gun and trust that it will be in the condition you want it to be in. He’s an actor, he’s just an actor.”
Baldwin also has the unwavering support of SAG-AFTRA, the actors’ union.
“The prosecutor’s claim that an actor has a duty to ensure the functional and mechanical operation of a firearm on a production set is erroneous and misinformed,” according to a union statement. “An actor’s job is not to be a firearms expert. “
Despite the announcement of criminal charges this week, production on “Rust” will continue at some point with Joel Souza in the director’s chair, said attorney Melina Spadone, who represents Rust Movie Productions LLC.
Souza was wounded, but not killed, in the October 21, 2021 shooting.
“Rust” is “on its way to completion with Mr. Baldwin in the lead role and Joel Souza” as director, the lawyer said.
Spadone added that “live ammunition is – and has always been – prohibited”.
There is still no time frame or new location selected for the “Rust” shoot. Locations outside of Los Angeles are being considered.