SANTA FE, NM — Special prosecutors are seeking to re-indict actor Alec Baldwin in the 2021 fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the set of a Western movie, officials said Tuesday as they prepared to present new information to a grand jury.
New Mexico-based prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis stated that they will present their case to the grand jury within the next two months, and noted that “additional facts” came to light during the shootings on the set of the murdered “Rust” movie. Halyna Hutchins.
Baldwin, a co-producer of the film, was pointing a gun at Hutchins during a rehearsal in a rustic chapel on a film set farm near Santa Fe on Oct. 21, 2021, when the gun went off, killing the cinematographer and wounding director Joel Souza. .
“Additional facts have come to light that we believe demonstrate Mr. Baldwin’s criminal culpability in the death of Halyna Hutchins and the shooting of Joel Souza,” Morrissey and Lewis said in an email. “We believe the proper course of action is to allow a panel of New Mexico citizens to decide from there whether Mr. Baldwin should be detained for criminal proceedings.”
Baldwin said he pulled back the hammer but did not pull the trigger and the gun went off.
Baldwin’s lawyers said prosecutors’ latest move was misguided.
“It is unfortunate that a terrible tragedy has been turned into this misguided prosecution. “We will answer any accusations in court,” Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro said in an email.
Special prosecutors first dismissed the involuntary manslaughter charge against Baldwin in April, saying they were informed the gun might have been altered and malfunctioning before the shooting. They later returned and began weighing whether to re-file charges against Baldwin after receiving a new analysis of the gun.
Recent gun analysis by ballistics and forensic experts based in Arizona and New Mexico relied on spare parts to reassemble the gun fired by Baldwin after parts of the gun broke during previous testing by the FBI. The report examined the gun and the marks it left on the finished cartridge to conclude that the trigger must have been pulled or pressed.
The analysis, led by Lucien Haag of Forensic Science Services in Arizona, found that although Baldwin repeatedly denied pulling the trigger, “given the tests, findings, and observations reported herein, the trigger must have been sufficiently pulled or depressed for the fully cocked or retracted hammer to be released.” specified. from the evidence gun.”
An FBI report released in August on the agency’s analysis of the gun found that an uncocked hammer could be fired without pulling the trigger if force was applied to it (such as dropping the gun), as is common with firearms of this design.
The only way testers could fire the gun was to ram it with the hammer down and the cartridge resting on it, or to pull the trigger while it was fully cocked. The gun eventually broke during testing.
Authorities did not specify exactly how the live ammunition got into the set and into the .45-caliber gun made by an Italian company specializing in 19th-century reproductions.
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the film set’s weapons supervisor, pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence in the case. His trial is scheduled to begin in February.
In March, David Halls, “Rust’s” assistant manager and security coordinator, pleaded no contest to a conviction for unsafe handling of a firearm and was sentenced to six months’ deferred probation. He agreed to cooperate in the investigation of the shooting.
Special prosecutors said the grand jury in the revived case against Baldwin “will determine whether probable cause exists to bind Baldwin on criminal charges.”
These closed-door hearings will come at a time when concerns about gun safety are growing in New Mexico.
The 2021 shooting resulted in a series of civil lawsuits focusing on accusations that the defendants had lax safety standards. The lawsuits include wrongful death claims filed by Hutchins’ family members. Baldwin and the other defendants disputed accusations that they were lax in safety standards.
The company, Rust Movie Productions, paid a $100,000 fine to state workplace safety regulators after a scathing narrative of safety failures that violated standard industry protocols; This includes statements that production executives took limited or no action to resolve two misfires on the set before the fatal shooting.
Filming on “Rust” resumed in Montana this year under an agreement with the cinematographer’s widow, Matthew Hutchins, that made her an executive producer.
Associated Press writers Andrew Dalton in Los Angeles and Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, New Mexico contributed to this report.