Prosecutor: Baldwin 'Did His Own Thing,' Ignored Gun Safety

Actor's attorney says he was merely 'an actor, acting'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 10, 2024 4:05 PM CDT
Prosecutor: Baldwin 'Did His Own Thing,' Ignored Gun Safety
Alec Baldwin listens during his hearing in Santa Fe County District Court, Wednesday, July 10, 2024, in Santa Fe, N.M. Baldwin is facing a single charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a cinematographer.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)

Alec Baldwin's involuntary manslaughter trial is underway in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with the actor accused in the on-set shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Baldwin fired the gun that killed Hutchins, but he maintains that he should not be held accountable for firing what was supposed to have been a prop weapon.

  • Defense: Baldwin attorney Alex Spiro told jurors in his opening statement Wednesday that the 2021 death of Hutchins on the set of Rust was an "unspeakable tragedy" but that "Alec Baldwin committed no crime; he was an actor, acting," per the AP. Spiro emphasized that Baldwin did exactly what actors always do in Westerns. "I don't have to tell you any more about this, because you've all seen gunfights in movies," he said.

  • Prosecution: Special prosecutor Erlinda Ocampo Johnson said in her opening statement that before the shooting, Baldwin skipped safety checks and recklessly handled a revolver. "The evidence will show that someone who played make-believe with a real gun and violated the cardinal rules of firearm safety is the defendant, Alexander Baldwin," Johnson said.
  • Defense, II: Spiro countered that "these cardinal rules, they're not cardinal rules on a movie set." He added: "On a movie set, safety has to occur before a gun is placed in an actor's hand."
  • Prosecution, II: Johnson in her opening walked the jurors through the events leading up to Hutchins' death. She said on that day, Baldwin declined multiple opportunities for standard safety checks with armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed before the rehearsal in the small church about 20 miles from the courthouse where Hutchins, "a vibrant 42-year-old rising star," was killed. She said Baldwin instead "did his own thing. ... He cocks the hammer, points it straight at Miss Hutchins, and fires that gun, sending that live bullet right into Miss Hutchins' body."
  • First witness: The first witness to take the stand was the first law enforcement officer to arrive at Bonanza Creek Ranch after the shooting. Video shown in the courtroom from the body camera of Nicholas LeFleur, then a Santa Fe county sheriff's deputy, captured the frantic efforts to save Hutchins, who looked unconscious as several people attended to her and gave her an oxygen mask. In the courtroom, Baldwin looked at the screen somberly as it played. Later in the video, LeFleur can be seen telling Baldwin not to speak to the other potential witnesses, but Baldwin repeatedly does.
  • The jury: The 16 jurors—11 women and five men—come from a region with strong currents of gun ownership and safety informed by backcountry hunting. Four of the jurors are alternates.
(More Alec Baldwin stories.)

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