22 Feb 2024

Trial of 'Rust' armourer begins in New Mexico

7:07 am on 22 February 2024
Halyna Hutchins at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

Halyna Hutchins at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

By Steven McIntosh, BBC Entertainment reporter

Jury selection has begun in the trial of armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed for the fatal 2021 shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Hutchins died when a gun went off on the set of Rust, a forthcoming Western film, near Santa Fe in October 2021.

Gutierrez-Reed has pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence.

She faces up to three years in prison if convicted.

As the armourer, she was in charge of firearms on the film set.

Gutierrez-Reed has tried to have the case dismissed, but a judge ruled last week it could proceed.

Opening arguments are expected to begin later this week in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

In January, Alec Baldwin, the movie's star, was charged with involuntary manslaughter over Ms Hutchins' death.

Alec Baldwin speaks onstage during the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights' 2023 Ripple of Hope Gala on December 06, 2023 in New York City.

Actor Alec Baldwin Photo: Getty Images via AFP

The fresh charge came after previous charges against him were dropped last April when New Mexico prosecutors said new information had come to light which required further investigation.

Baldwin was charged again after local prosecutors said "additional facts" had emerged from forensic tests on the weapon used in the shooting.

The actor entered a not guilty plea on 31 January. No trial date has been scheduled in his case.

Hutchins was killed when a prop gun held by Baldwin went off at point-blank range as they were rehearsing a scene on the Bonanza Creek Ranch set of Rust.

Baldwin, 65, had been practising firing a pistol for a scene. He has maintained he did not pull the trigger of the Colt .45 pistol and only drew back its hammer.

He has also argued he is not at fault for Hutchins' death because he did not know the weapon contained live rounds and because no live ammunition was supposed to be on set.

It has not been officially established how live ammunition got on to the film set.

Gutierrez-Reed was first charged with manslaughter early last year, with evidence tampering charges added when she allegedly refused to provide more information about the live rounds.

Rust resumed filming in early 2023 but the movie is yet to be released.

- This story was first published by the BBC

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