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Alec Baldwin charged with involuntary manslaughter over fatal shooting on 'Rust' film set

Alec Baldwin charged with involuntary manslaughter over fatal shooting on 'Rust' film set

A grand jury has indicted Alec Baldwin on an involuntary manslaughter charge in the 2021 fatal shooting during a rehearsal on a movie set in New Mexico, reviving a dormant case against the actor.

Special prosecutors brought the case before a grand jury in Santa Fe this week, months after receiving a new analysis of the gun that was used. They declined to answer questions after spending about a day and a half presenting their case to the grand jury.

Defence attorneys for Baldwin indicate they'll fight the charge, which carries a potential prison sentence of up to 18 months.

“We look forward to our day in court," said Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro, defence attorneys for Baldwin, in an email.

While the proceeding is shrouded in secrecy, two of the witnesses seen at the courthouse included crew members — one who was present when the fatal shot was fired and another who had walked off the set the day before due to safety concerns.

Aerial photo shows a film set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, N.M., Oct. 23, 2021.
Aerial photo shows a film set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, N.M., Oct. 23, 2021. - Jae C. Hong/Copyright 2021 The AP. All rights reserved

Baldwin, the lead actor and a co-producer on the Western movie Rust, was pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal on a movie set outside Santa Fe in October 2021 when the gun went off, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza.

Baldwin has said he pulled back the hammer, but not the trigger, and the gun fired.

The charge has again put Baldwin in legal trouble and created the possibility of prison time for an actor who has been a TV and movie mainstay for nearly 40 years, with roles in the early blockbuster The Hunt for Red October, Martin Scorsese’s The Departed and the sitcom “30 Rock."

The indictment provides prosecutors with two alternative standards for pursuing an involuntary manslaughter charge against Baldwin in the death of Hutchins. One would be based on negligent use of a firearm, and the other alleges felony misconduct “with the total disregard or indifference for the safety of others.”

Judges recently agreed to put on hold several civil lawsuits seeking compensation from Baldwin and producers of Rust after prosecutors said they would present their case to a grand jury. Plaintiffs in those suits include members of the film crew.

Los Angeles-based attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing the slain cinematographer’s parents and younger sister in a civil case, said on Friday that her clients have been seeking the truth about what happened the day Hutchins was killed and will be looking forward to Baldwin's trial.

The filming of Rust resumed last year in Montana, under an agreement with the cinematographer’s widower, Matthew Hutchins, that made him an executive producer.