“Rust” Armorer's 'Swift' Guilty Verdict in Halyna Hutchins' Death Could Hint at Alec Baldwin’s Fate: Expert (Exclusive)

Baldwin's own involuntary manslaughter trial is set for July

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

John Lamparski/Getty; Fred Hayes/Getty; Jim Weber - Pool/Getty

Alec Baldwin, Halyna Hutchins and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed

The “swift” verdict for Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who on Wednesday was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the fatal 2021 shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, could hint at Alec Baldwin’s fate, according to legal expert Emily D. Baker.

Baldwin, 65, an actor and producer on the Western film, was holding a prop gun when it discharged, killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza. He was charged in January with involuntary manslaughter (negligent use of a firearm) or alternatively, with involuntary manslaughter (without due caution or circumspection).

The 30 Rock alum heads to trial in New Mexico in July and faces up to 18 months in prison.

He has repeatedly said that he did not know the gun mistakenly contained a live bullet, and also claimed he did not pull the trigger. His lawyers, Alex Spiro and Luke Nikas of Quinn Emanuel, have also maintained their client’s innocence, saying, "We look forward to our day in court.”

Related: Everything to Know About Alec Baldwin's 'Rust' Shooting Charges, and What Happens Next?

But legal expert Baker, a lawyer and former L.A. Deputy District Attorney, says a jury might not be so sympathetic to their case.

Courtesy of Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office Alec Baldwin on the set of 'Rust'
Courtesy of Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office Alec Baldwin on the set of 'Rust'

Pointing to the Gutierrez-Reed jury members, who deliberated for less than three hours before delivering their “swift” verdict, Baker notes “that has to be some indication to [Baldwin’s] team that he may also be convicted in this case.” (Gutierrez-Reed was also found not guilty of tampering with evidence, a charge Baldwin does not face.)

“The jurors in New Mexico that spoke to the media didn't hold back in saying people on set are responsible for what happened,” continues Baker.

Indeed, juror Alberto Sanchez spoke to Albuquerque’s KOAT Action News, saying “[they] never did the safety checks. Never checked the rounds [in the gun] to pull them out to look at them, shake ‘em. I mean, if you woulda done that, this never would have happened.”

He added of Gutierrez-Reed, “That was her job to check those rounds.”

Baker says Baldwin’s team will likely lean into the testimony of the state’s weapons expert, Bryan Carpenter, who found fault with Gutierrez-Reed’s handling of weapons.

“He said in his testimony [that] it's not the actor's job to check the weapon and if the actor checks the weapon, the armorer has to check it again after. Which is consistent with what Baldwin has been saying all along,” continues Baker.

<p>Gabriela Campos-Pool/Getty</p> Hannah Gutierrez-Reed at New Mexico's First Judicial Courthouse Feb. 29

Gabriela Campos-Pool/Getty

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed at New Mexico's First Judicial Courthouse Feb. 29

“The problem Baldwin has is the negligent use of a firearm component of the involuntary manslaughter because every weapons expert agrees that you don't point a gun at someone's chest and pull the trigger. That's negligent use of a firearm,” she adds.

“Baldwin's going to have to bring in industry experts that will explain that this is acceptable standards in Hollywood when you are handed a gun and told that it is fine, that those rules of gun safety are slightly different on a movie set,” says Baker, “I don't know if a jury will buy it, but that's what he needs to do.”

She adds that some of the evidence shown during trial, including previously unseen video of Baldwin firing a gun on set when he wasn’t supposed to, shows him in an unflattering light.

“We did see video of Joel Souza calling ‘cut’ and Baldwin continuing to fire a blank round that makes a noise and shoots powder. And you hear the director call Baldwin a ‘motherf—r’ on that video right after Baldwin fires it again,” she notes.

Sam Wasson/Getty The entrance to Bonanza Creek Ranch, where 'Rust' shot in New Mexico
Sam Wasson/Getty The entrance to Bonanza Creek Ranch, where 'Rust' shot in New Mexico

“That will all come up at Baldwin’s trial,” says Baker.

The actor had been previously charged with involuntary manslaughter in January 2023 before charges were dropped that April.

Two months later, special prosecutors Kari T. Morrissey and Jason J. Lewis wrote in a court filing that the gun that discharged had been sent to an independent expert for further testing.

“The charges against Alec Baldwin were dismissed without prejudice because a possible malfunction of the gun significantly effects causation with regard to Baldwin, not with regard to Gutierrez. If it is determined that the gun did not malfunction, charges against Mr. Baldwin will proceed,” Morrissey and Lewis wrote in their filing.

Related: Halyna Hutchins' Parents and Sister 'Satisfied' with Rust Armorer's Guilty Verdict After Cinematographer's Death

A forensic report obtained by PEOPLE that summer concluded that the trigger of the gun must have been pulled “sufficiently” enough to go off.

“Although Alec Baldwin repeatedly denies pulling the trigger, given the tests, findings and observations reported here, the trigger had to be pulled or depressed sufficiently to release the fully cocked or retracted hammer of the evidence revolver,” Lucien Haag and Mike Haag,  experts, who were hired by the State of New Mexico in its case against Gutierrez-Reed, wrote in the report.

That report “goes to disprove the things [Baldwin] said about this gun firing,” continues Baker, “The prosecution believes he lied about what happened. They are very much anxious to go after Alec Baldwin, and you saw that in this trial.”

Noting Morrissey’s closing arguments in the Gutierrez-Reed trial, Baker says, “She was talking about Alec Baldwin and saying ‘I will be prosecuting him.’ She's looking forward to that.”

One bright spot for Baldwin, says Baker, is that his legal team got “a preview of not only the evidence but also public perception of Baldwin and that's a really unique position. They got to watch a preview of the trial against him.”

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