Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin has pleaded not guilty to felony charges of involuntary manslaughter stemming from the shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film Rust. The actor, who is co-producing as well as starring in the western, declined his first formal court appearance, at which he would have had his rights explained to him, according to court papers filed on Thursday.
District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer ordered Baldwin to limit his interaction with potential witnesses of the October 2021 shooting to meetings connected with “completing the ‘Rust’ movie and other related and unrelated business matters” so long as he does not “discuss the accident at issue” in a signed order. The Oscar nominee is also forbidden from drinking alcohol and possessing weapons, including guns.
Baldwin is accused of pointing a pistol at Hutchins which then went off, killing her and injuring the film’s director, Joe Souza. He is also being held responsible for maintaining a dangerous set, for reasons including the hiring of on-set armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who made it clear at the time she was hired that she had no training in handling weapons. Hiring Gutierrez-Reed anyway and failing to provide proper training “violated industry standards and practices….resulting in reckless actions taking place prior to and on the day of shooting,” investigator Robert Shilling found.
Gutierrez-Reed was also charged with involuntary manslaughter and is expected to plead not guilty on Friday. She is accused of improperly handling the weapon that killed Hutchins on set and failing to correct Baldwin when he engaged in “dangerous” behavior with the gun.
Baldwin has maintained his innocence, insisting he did not pull the trigger, though an FBI forensic report found the weapon had to have had its trigger pulled to fire. The actor also blamed the film’s principal safety officer, David Halls, who handed him the firearm and reassured him it was empty.
Both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed face up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine if convicted. Until the charges were downgraded earlier this week, they could have received prison sentences of five years due to a “firearm enhancement” on the manslaughter charge.
Halls pleaded no contest to charges of negligent use of a deadly weapon in exchange for a suspended sentence and six months of probation.
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