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Gun supervisor for ‘Rust’ movie gets 18 months in prison for fatal shooting by Alec Baldwin on set

“Rust” movie armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed stands by her defense team during her involuntary manslaughter trial, Tuesday, March 5, 2024, at the First Judicial District Courthouse in Santa Fe, N.M.

UPDATE 4/15/24 2:40 p.m.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A movie weapons supervisor was sentenced to 18 months in prison in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer by Alec Baldwin on the set of the Western film “Rust,” at a sentencing hearing Monday in a New Mexico state court.

Movie armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was convicted in March by a jury on a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and has been held for more than a month at a county jail on the outskirts of Santa Fe.

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Baldwin, the lead actor and co-producer for “Rust,” was pointing a gun at Hutchins when the revolver went off, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

Baldwin has pleaded not guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Halyna Hutchins. He is scheduled for trial in July at a courthouse in Santa Fe.

The sentence against Gutierrez-Reed was delivered by New Mexico Judge Mary Marlowe Summer who is overseeing proceedings against Baldwin.

Prosecutors blamed Gutierrez-Reed for unwittingly bringing live ammunition onto the set of “Rust” where it was expressly prohibited and for failing to follow basic gun safety protocols. After a two-week trial, the jury deliberated for about three hours in reaching its verdict.

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Gutierrez-Reed teared up Monday as Hutchins’ agent, Craig Mizrahi, spoke about the cinematographer’s creativity and described her as a rising star in Hollywood. He said it was a chain of events that led to Hutchins’ death and that had the armorer been doing her job, that chain would have been broken.

Friends and family, including Souza, told the court they were seeking justice for what had happened to the cinematographer. They said she was “a bright beam of light,” describing her as courageous, tenacious and compassionate.

Los Angeles-based attorney Gloria Allred read a statement by Hutchins’ mother, Olga Solovey, who said her life had been split in two and that time didn’t heal, rather it only prolonged her pain and suffering. A video of a tearful Solovey, who lives in Ukraine, also was played for the court.

“It’s the hardest thing to lose a child. There’s no words to describe,” Solovey said in her native language.

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Defense attorneys for Gutierrez-Reed requested leniency in sentencing - including a possible conditional discharge that would avoid further jail time and leave an adjudication of guilt off her record if certain conditions are met.

Gutierrez-Reed was acquitted at trial of allegations she tampered with evidence in the “Rust” investigation. She also has pleaded not guilty to a separate felony charge that she allegedly carried a gun into a bar in Santa Fe where firearms are prohibited.

Defense attorneys have highlighted Gutierrez-Reed’s relatively young age “and the devastating effect a felony will have on her life going forward.”

They say the 26-year-old will forever be affected negatively by intense publicity associated with her prosecution in parallel with an A-list actor, and has suffered from anxiety, fear and depression as a result.

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Special prosecutor Kari Morrissey urged the judge to impose the maximum prison sentence and designate Gutierrez-Reed as a “serious violent offender” to limit her eligibility for a sentence reduction later, describing the defendant’s behavior on the set of “Rust” as exceptionally reckless.

Morrissey told the judge Monday that she reviewed nearly 200 phone calls that Gutierrez-Reed had made from jail over the last month. She said she was hoping there would be a moment when the defendant would take responsibility for what happened or express genuine remorse.

“That moment has never come,” Morrissey said. “Ms. Gutierrez continues to refuse to accept responsibility for her role in the death of Halyna Hutchins.”

“Rust” assistant director and safety coordinator Dave Halls last year pleaded no contest to negligent handling of a firearm and completed a sentence of six months unsupervised probation. “Rust” props master Sarah Zachry, who shared some responsibilities over firearms on the set of “Rust,” signed an agreement with prosecutors to avoid prosecution in return with her cooperation.

Written testimonials in favor of leniency included letters from Gutierrez-Reed’s childhood friend and romantic partner Sean Kridelbaugh, who said Gutierrez-Reed cries constantly out of remorse in the shooting and that further incarceration would interfere with efforts to care for a relative with cancer. Other friends and former colleagues urged the judge to emphasize rehabilitation over punishment in the sentencing.

The pending firearms charge against Gutierrez-Reed stems from an incident at a bar in downtown Santa Fe, days before she was hired to work as the armorer on “Rust.” Prosecutors says investigations into the fatal shooting led to discovery of a selfie video in which Gutierrez-Reed filmed herself carrying a firearm into the bar, while defense attorneys allege vindictive prosecution.

3/6/24 6:55 p.m.

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A jury convicted a movie weapons supervisor of involuntary manslaughter on Wednesday in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer by actor Alec Baldwin during a rehearsal on the set of the Western movie “Rust.”

The verdict against movie armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed assigned new blame in the October 2021 shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in October 2021 after an assistant director last year pleaded no contest to negligent handling of a firearm.

Gutierrez-Reed aso had faced a second charge, of tampering with evidence, stemming from accusations that she handed a small bag of possible narcotics to another crew member after the shooting to avoid detection. She was found not guilty on that count.

Immediately after the verdict was read out in court, the judge ordered the 24-year-old armorer placed into the custody of deputies. Lead attorney Jason Bowles said afterward that Gutierrez-Reed will appeal the conviction, which carries a penalty of up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Baldwin, the lead actor and a co-producer on “Rust,” was indicted by a grand jury in January on a charge of involuntary manslaughter. He was pointing a gun at Hutchins on a movie set outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, when the gun went off, killing the cinematographer and wounding director Joel Souza.

The trial in Santa Fe was a preamble to the actor’s scheduled trial in July on the single charge of involuntary manslaughter. Baldwin has pleaded not guilty. Messages seeking comment about Wednesday’s verdict from Baldwin’s spokeswoman and a lawyer were not immediately returned.

Prosecutors said earlier at trial that Gutierrez-Reed unknowingly brought live ammunition onto the set of “Rust” at a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe, arguing that rounds lingered for at least 12 days until the fatal shooting.

In closing arguments, prosecutor Kari Morrissey described “constant, never-ending safety failures” on the set of “Rust” and Gutierrez-Reed’s “astonishing lack of diligence” with gun safety.

“We end exactly where we began — in the pursuit of justice for Halyna Hutchins,” Morrissey had told jurors before they began deliberating. “Hannah Gutierrez failed to maintain firearms safety, making a fatal accident willful and foreseeable.”

Prosecutors contended that the armorer repeatedly skipped or skimped on standard gun-safety protocols that might have detected the live rounds. “This was a game of Russian roulette every time an actor had a gun with dummies,” Morrissey said.

Defense attorneys said the problems on the set extended far beyond Gutierrez-Reed’s control, including the mishandling of weapons by Baldwin. At trial they cited sanctions and findings by state workplace safety investigators.

Prosecutors did not come close to proving where the live rounds originated and failed to fully investigate an Albuquerque-based ammunition supplier, the defense said at trial.

Bowles, the defense attorney, had told jurors that no one in the cast and crew thought there were live rounds on set and Gutierrez-Reed could not have foreseen that Baldwin would “go off-script” when he pointed the revolver at Hutchins. Investigators found no video recordings of the shooting.

“It was not in the script for Mr. Baldwin to point the weapon,” Bowles said. “She didn’t know that Mr. Baldwin was going to do what he did.”

To drive the point home, Bowles played a video outtake in which Baldwin fired a revolver loaded with blanks — including a shot after a director calls “cut.”

On the day of the shooting, Bowles said, Gutierrez-Reed alone was segregated in a police car away from others, becoming a convenient scapegoat.

“You had a production company on a shoestring budget, an A-list actor that was really running the show,” Bowles said. “At the end, they had somebody they could all blame.”

Dozens of witnesses had testified during the 10-day trial, from FBI experts in firearms and crime-scene forensics to a camera dolly operator who described the fatal gunshot and watching Hutchins go flush and lose feeling in her legs before death.

The prosecution painstakingly assembled photographic evidence it said traced the arrival and spread of live rounds on set, and argued that Gutierrez-Reed repeatedly missed opportunities to ensure safety and treated basic gun protocols as optional.

The defense had cast doubt on the relevance of photographs of ammunition, noting FBI testimony that live rounds can’t be fully distinguished from dummy ones on sight.

Bowles began his closing arguments by highlighting testimony from “Rust” armorer Sarah Zachry saying that, in a panic in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, she threw out ammunition from guns used by actors other than Baldwin. That undermined all evidence about the sources of ammunition, the defense argued.

Prosecutors said six live rounds found on set bear mostly identical characteristics and don’t match live rounds seized from the movie’s supplier in Albuquerque. Defense attorneys said the cluttered supply office was not searched until a month after the shooting, undermining the significance of physical evidence.

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