Judge Denies Alec Baldwin’s Bid to Throw Out Manslaughter Indictment

A New Mexico judge denied Alec Baldwin’s motion to throw out his manslaughter indictment on Friday, keeping the case on schedule for trial in July.

Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer rejected each of Baldwin’s lawyers’ arguments for dismissal, finding that the grand jury process was not prejudiced against the actor.

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Baldwin is facing up to 18 months in prison if convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. He is accused of negligently pointing his gun at Hutchins and pulling the trigger while preparing to film a scene, and has also been faulted for contributing to lax safety standards on set.

Baldwin’s lawyers sought to throw out the indictment, arguing that prosecutor Kari Morrissey steered the grand jury away from exculpatory information, and failed to make defense witnesses available.

In her ruling on Friday, Marlowe Sommer noted that Morrissey had read a letter from the defense verbatim to the grand jurors, and the grand jurors elected not to follow up on it.

“The Court is not in a position to second-guess the grand jury’s decision in this regard,” the judge wrote.

The defense also argued that Morrissey had repeatedly interrupted the grand jurors while they were trying to ask questions of the prosecution witnesses, thereby denying Baldwin a fair hearing.

Though the judge raised concerns about that issue during a hearing on the motion last week, she ultimately concluded that Morrissey’s actions did not impede the grand jurors’ ability to conduct an independent inquiry.

“Although the State deferred certain questions, in many other instances the grand jurors asked probative questions, and received complete answers from witnesses,” Marlowe Sommer wrote.

Baldwin has denied that he pulled the trigger, and has also denied that it was his responsibility to make sure the gun was safe.

The film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, is already serving an 18-month prison sentence after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in March. Prosecutors argued that she was sloppy and unprofessional, and that she failed to make sure that no live rounds made their way to set.

Baldwin’s lawyers have filed two additional motions to throw out the case. In the first, they argue that the FBI broke the gun used in the scene, thereby denying the defense a fair chance to show that it was not working at the time of the shooting. In the second motion, the defense argues that the allegations do not rise to the standard required for involuntary manslaughter.

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