Maximum Sentence for “Rust” Armorer Should Be a ‘Wake-Up Call’ for Alec Baldwin Ahead of Trial: Expert (Exclusive)

Alec Baldwin heads to trial in July for involuntary manslaughter in connection with the accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins

<p>Jim Weber - Pool/Getty; John Lamparski/Getty; Mat Hayward/Getty</p> Hannah Gutierrez Reed, Alec Baldwin and Halyna Hutchins

Jim Weber - Pool/Getty; John Lamparski/Getty; Mat Hayward/Getty

Hannah Gutierrez Reed, Alec Baldwin and Halyna Hutchins

Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who in March was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the fatal 2021 shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, was sentenced to the maximum penalty of 18 months in prison April 15.

According to legal expert Emily D. Baker, a lawyer and former L.A. Deputy District Attorney, the sentence handed down by New Mexico judge Mary Marlowe Sommer should be a “wake-up call” for Alec Baldwin, 66, who heads to trial for involuntary manslaughter in July. “The court is taking these cases very seriously."

Gutierrez-Reed, 26, oversaw the prop guns on the Western movie. Star and co-producer Baldwin was holding the weapon when it discharged, killing Hutchins, 42, on Oct. 21, 2021, in New Mexico. Director Joel Souza was also shot in the shoulder, but survived his injuries and returned to complete filming Rust with Baldwin in 2023.

Baldwin, who has insisted he did not pull the trigger, also faces up to 18 months in prison.

<p>Eddie Moore-Pool/Getty</p> Hannah Gutierrez Reed with her attorney Jason Bowles and paralegal Carmella Sisneros

Eddie Moore-Pool/Getty

Hannah Gutierrez Reed with her attorney Jason Bowles and paralegal Carmella Sisneros

Regarding the Gutierrez-Reed sentencing, Baker, who is not involved with the case, says, “I imagine Baldwin and his legal team are going to have serious discussions about what it means if he is convicted.”

Related: Everything to Know About the Rust Shooting Case and Alec Baldwin's Upcoming Trial

Sommer, after all, is also scheduled to oversee Baldwin’s trial. And according to Baker, the maximum sentence she gave Gutierrez-Reed was unexpected given that she has no prior convictions.

“And not only did she get 18 months, but she got 18 months as a serious and violent felony, which means she will have to serve 85% of that time,” says Baker.

At this point, Baker believes Baldwin’s legal team may reach out to special prosecutors Kari T. Morrissey and Jason J. Lewis to see if they will offer a similar plea deal to the one they offered him last October.

It was rescinded after they learned he was working on a documentary. Prosecutors alleged he was “actively pressuring material witnesses in the case against him to submit to interviews for his documentary,” according to their April 5 response to Baldwin’s motion to dismiss the charge against him.

<p>John Lamparski/Getty</p> Alec Baldwin

John Lamparski/Getty

Alec Baldwin

Under the terms of that plea deal, Baldwin would have been given six months of unsupervised probation for misdemeanor handling of a firearm, a fine of $500, 24 hours of community service, and ordered to take a gun safety class.

“I think if you're the defense attorney, you have to ask the prosecution [for a plea deal] unless your client says, ‘Don't even bother.’ There's always room to ask,” says Baker.

Whether the prosecution will be open to offering it again is another story.

“There's no love lost between the prosecution and the defense,” says Baker, who points to the increasingly contentious filings from Baldwin and the prosecutors. She notes that Morrissey claimed in recent court documents that the Emmy winner has “an impressive level of arrogance.”

“That doesn't indicate to me that the prosecution will be willing to budge,” says Baker.

But just because Gutierrez-Reed was convicted doesn’t necessarily mean Baldwin will face a similar fate if his trial proceeds.

Mat Hayward/Getty Halyna Hutchins
Mat Hayward/Getty Halyna Hutchins

“His case is different,” says Baker, noting that during Gutierrez-Reed’s trial, “the jury came back saying that Hannah not only was completely negligent, reckless in doing her job, but that she brought the live rounds onto set. So there is definitely a different case there than Baldwin.”

“But if the prosecution can show that Baldwin pulled the trigger, I don't know how much sympathy a jury is going to have for him, because many in the [movie] industry say that even if you are seemingly pointing a weapon at someone, it's always cheated,” says Baker. “You're never pointing a gun at a person, and you are always treating a weapon as if it's loaded.”

Baldwin’s legal team may try to paint Gutierrez-Reed as the culprit, noting that Sommer told Gutierrez-Reed during sentencing “but for you, Halyna would not be dead.”

But, says Baker, “two people can be responsible for this at once.”

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