‘Rust’ Armorer Found Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter in Criminal Shooting Case

Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter over the accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

But in a split verdict Wednesday, a 12-member jury in Santa Fe declined to convict her on evidence tampering charges. Jurors returned the decision after less than three hours of deliberating.

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The 26-year-old Arizona woman faces up to 18 months in prison for her role in the death of Hutchins. She was remanded into custody after the verdict was read.

The shooting occurred Oct. 21, 2021, when an old-fashioned revolver being handled by Alec Baldwin went off while he was practicing drawing the prop firearm. Prior to that, assistant director David Halls handed Baldwin the weapon and said that it did not contain live ammunition, but it discharged in the direction of Hutchins, who was killed, and director Joel Souza, who was injured. Five live rounds mixed in with dummy rounds were found on set following the shooting. It remains unknown how the live rounds ended up on the set.

During the trial, prosecutors stressed that Gutierrez-Reed, who has maintained that she believed she loaded Baldwin’s gun with “dummy” rounds,” was careless in handling firearms and ammunition on the set of the low-budget Western.

The defense, meanwhile, revolved around arguments that Gutierrez-Reed was the scapegoat for larger safety issues on set that she could not control. Jason Bowles, representing the armorer, faulted Baldwin, who was one of more than a dozen producers on the film, among others.

In January, Baldwin was recharged with involuntary manslaughter after the criminal case against him was dropped to reinvestigate whether the firearm he was holding could have fired without a pull of the trigger. He is set to go to trial in July and has pleaded not guilty. He faces 18 months in prison if convicted.

On how Gutierrez-Reed’s conviction may impact Baldwin’s trial, Los Angeles attorney Tre Lovell said that the actor can “use this to his advantage.”

“A jury has found someone responsible for the death of Hutchins, and thus the pressure to convict is less,” he explained. “Second, this doesn’t affect his argument that, as an actor, he had no duty regarding set safety, which includes determining whether or not the gun was loaded. Halls, Gutierrez and the production team all stand before him in the line of criminality.”

Testimony from Halls, who testified in Gutierrez-Reed’s trial, will likely be used against Baldwin in his trial, said attorney Miguel Custodio. He added, “Baldwin has vehemently said that he was handed the gun by Halls, while Halls told the court Gutierrez-Reed handed Baldwin the gun. This is particularly damning because it would show that Baldwin flat out lied to police and to the public about who gave him the gun.”

Lovell stressed that the verdict “should be a wake-up call for producers of low-budget, independent movies” that they should not cut corners on set safety.

Notably, no producer outside of Baldwin was charged over the accidental shooting. Last year, producers settled a citation from a New Mexico safety agency for numerous violations of safety protocols on the set of the low-budget western for a reduced penalty of $100,000. It found that the movie’s producers knew that firearm safety procedures weren’t being followed on set and demonstrated a “plain indifference” to the welfare of cast and crew by failing to train crew on how to properly handle firearms and introducing live ammunition onto the set, among other things.

The movie, which halted filming after Hutchins’ death, was completed last year in Montana.

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