Alec Baldwin Trial: Set ‘Sabotage’ Theory Makes Its Debut in ‘Rust’ Star’s Manslaughter Case

Alec Baldwin’s lawyer began teasing out the theory Thursday that someone may have tried to sabotage “Rust” by slipping live rounds into the ammo supply, framing his questioning of a sheriff’s investigator around the idea that was introduced by armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed.

During her February trial — and in early TV interviews — Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney had hinted that someone may have purposely put live bullets in boxes of “dummy” rounds to undermine the young armorer after a camera crew walked off in protest over gun safety. That someone was munitions supplier Seth Kenney, who took the stand in February to deny he was involved in any way.

That defense didn’t exactly work for Gutierrez-Reed, who is serving an 18-month sentence for manslaughter in the October 2021 accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. However, Baldwin’s legal team began deploying it anyway.

“This idea came up … what if someone sabotaged the set,” Baldwin defense attorney Alex Spiro said Thursday while cross-examining Marissa Poppell, a state’s witness who helped process much of the evidence from the ill-fated set. “This was dismissed early on … but you also need to investigate whether someone from outside the ‘Rust’ set was responsible … you continue to investigate that and you executed search warrants, correct?”

“Not me personally,” Poppell said, “but I remember that was something that needs to be investigated.”

Spiro referenced Kenney on several occasions, asking Poppell about serving a search warrant at his prop house and interrogating the nature of authorities’ friendly relationship with the ammo dealer. According to phone records and testimony, Kenney was actively helping investigators, making regular contact and offering guidance and evidence.

Though Spiro never drew any direct conclusions about Kenney, his questions did the talking:

“Let me ask you something,” Spiro asked Poppell at one point. “At any point did you become suspicious of Seth Kenney?”

“No,” she answered flatly.

Later in the cross-examination, Spiro began indirectly attacking the investigation team’s decisions that at least appeared to favor, or even protect, the prop arms supplier.

“You didn’t take surveillance footage [from Kenney’s prop shop], even though that could’ve shown who was coming and going?” Spiro said.

Poppell acknowledged that she had not.

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