16 Apr 2024

'Rust' armorer sentenced to 18 months in fatal shooting by Alec Baldwin

6:36 am on 16 April 2024
SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO - MARCH 06: Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, former armorer for the movie "Rust," listens to closing arguments in her trial at district court on March 6, 2024 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Gutierrez-Reed, who was working as the armorer on the movie "Rust" when a revolver actor Alec Baldwin was holding fired, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding the film's director Joel Souza, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter but acquitted on charges of tampering with evidence. She could face up to 18 months in prison.   Luis Sánchez Saturno - Pool/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by POOL / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, former armorer for the movie "Rust" was sentenced by New Mexico District Court Judge. Photo: POOL / Getty Images via AFP

By Andrew Hay, Reuters

Hannah Gutierrez, the chief weapons handler for the Western movie Rust, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Monday in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was shot when actor Alec Baldwin was handling a gun during the film's production in 2021.

In March, Gutierrez, 27, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for mistakenly loading a live round into a revolver Baldwin was using on a Santa Fe, New Mexico, movie set.

The shooting, which stunned Hollywood, is believed to be the first time in modern times that a member of a film crew or cast was killed by a live round accidentally loaded into a gun.

Baldwin's trial is set for 10 July after a grand jury indicted him on a charge of involuntary manslaughter in January.

Gutierrez, step-daughter of Hollywood gun trainer Thell Reed, was sentenced by New Mexico District Court Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer.

Gutierrez's lawyer Jason Bowles had requested she be given probation, but prosecutors argued for a full 18 months due to lack of contrition.

Prosecutor Kari Morrissey pointed to phone calls by Gutierrez from jail in which she said the jurors were "idiots," the judge had been "paid off," and she continued to blame Baldwin and others for the shooting.

Gutierrez had already spent a month in Santa Fe county jail following her conviction.

On 6 March, a Santa Fe jury took less than two hours to find her guilty. One juror afterwards said Gutierrez had not done her job to ensure weapons safety on set.

Hutchins' death initially prompted US film and television productions to stop using real firearms and blank ammunition. Two and a half years later, many are using them again because of the realistic effects they produce, according to armorers.

Hutchins was fatally shot when Baldwin pointed his gun at the cinematographer and cocked the weapon as she set up a scene.

During Gutierrez's three-week trial, prosecutors accused her of unknowingly bringing live Colt .45 rounds onto the set of the low-budget movie, something that has been strictly forbidden for nearly a century under Screen Actors Guild safety guidelines.

Bowles said Gutierrez was the scapegoat for a chaotic production where she was not given time to check weapons. He blamed Hutchins' death on reckless use of firearms by Baldwin and his efforts to rush and control the filming. Baldwin was also a producer and writer on the movie.

The 30 Rock actor denies pulling the trigger and said he had been directed to aim it at the camera. But the FBI and an independent firearms expert found the gun would not fire without the trigger depressed.

Film historians such as Alan Rode have look to back to the early part of the last century to find examples of Hollywood cast or crew killed by live rounds accidentally loaded into guns.

Previous on-set fatal shootings of actors Brandon Lee in 1993 and Jon-Erik Hexum in 1984 involved blank rounds.

- This story was first published by Reuters.

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