Alec Baldwin trial told actor 'violated cardinal rules of firearm safety' during fatal Rust shooting

Actor Alec Baldwin listens during his hearing in Santa Fe County District Court (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Actor Alec Baldwin listens during his hearing in Santa Fe County District Court (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

A prosecutor told jurors that Alec Baldwin “violated the cardinal rules of firearm safety” in opening statements on Wednesday at his involuntary manslaughter trial.

“The evidence will show that someone who played make believe with a real gun and violated the cardinal rules of firearm safety is the defendant, Alexander Baldwin,” special prosecutor Erlinda Ocampo Johnson told the court.

A revolver Baldwin was pointing at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust went in October 2021 went off, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza during rehearsals.

Baldwin has said the gun fired accidentally after he followed instructions to point it toward Hutchins, who was behind the camera.

The 30 Rock star said he was unaware the gun contained a live round, and that he pulled back the hammer, not the trigger, and it fired.

But a New Mexico jury of 12 and four alternates - 11 women and five men - heard prosecutor Erlinda Johnson outline arguments that Baldwin disregarded safety during filming of the low-budget movie.

Halyna Hutchins (Getty Images for SAGindie)
Halyna Hutchins (Getty Images for SAGindie)

She emphasized to the court in Santa Fe, that Hutchins, “a vibrant 42-year-old rising star,” was shot and killed, was a workplace.

“The evidence will show that like in many workplaces, there are people who act in a reckless manner and place other people in danger,” Johnson said. “That, you will hear, is the defendant.”

Johnson walked the jurors through the events leading up to the shooting in her opening statements on Wednesday.

She said on that day, Baldwin declined multiple opportunities for standard safety checks before the rehearsal and instead “did his own thing” with the revolver at the rehearsal where Hutchins was killed.

“He cocks the hammer, points it straight at Miss Hutchins, and fires that gun, sending that live bullet right into Miss Hutchins body,” Johnson said.

The trial will delve into the confluence of gun safety, high-wattage celebrity and a low-budget Western movie on the remote ranch set.

The 16 jurors come from a region with strong currents of gun ownership and safety informed by backcountry hunting.

The shooting death of cinematographer Hutchins nearly three years ago sent shock waves through the film industry and led to one felony charge against Baldwin that could result in up to 18 months in prison.

Baldwin has pleaded not guilty. He entered the courtroom with a disposable coffee cup in his hand. His wife Hilaria Baldwin and brother, Stephen Baldwin, were seated close by in the audience, among relatives and friends of the defendant. He sat surrounded by his lawyers, wearing a dark blue suit.

The trial continues.