Alec Baldwin trial in 'Rust' shooting begins with jury selection


Jury selection is set to begin Tuesday in actor Alec Baldwin’s manslaughter trial — nearly three years after the deadly shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on a Western movie set in New Mexico.

“The Departed” actor arrived at the Santa Fe courthouse early Tuesday morning, dressed in a dark grey suit and thick-rimmed black glasses, carrying a yellow legal pad.

Baldwin, 66, has pleaded not guilty and maintained that he’s not criminally responsible for unwittingly discharging a live bullet in the prop revolver he was using on set in October 2021. Movie guns are typically loaded with secure blanks for filming, as live ammunition is prohibited on film sets.

Baldwin, the lead actor in “Rust” and a co-producer of the film, was rehearsing a scene when the gun went off, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza. He claims he pulled back the hammer — not the trigger — when the gun fired.

He is charged with causing Hutchins’s death while “in the commission of negligent use of a firearm” or “by an act committed with the total disregard or indifference for the safety of others, and the act was such that an ordinary person would anticipate that death might occur under the circumstances.”

If convicted of involuntary manslaughter, a fourth-degree felony in New Mexico, Baldwin faces up to 18 months in prison.

The trial is scheduled to last 10 days, with opening remarks coming after a jury is seated. It is expected to be a rare star-studded and media-grabbing scene for normally low-key Santa Fe, potentially putting jurors in an unusual spotlight.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the 27-year-old movie weapons armorer for the film, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in March and sentenced to 18 months in prison, after prosecutors argued she brought live ammunition onto the set despite rules against it and failed to follow gun safety protocols that could have prevented the shooting. Gutierrez-Reed is appealing the conviction.

Baldwin’s role as a producer won’t be a factor in the trial, a judge ruled earlier this week.

Baldwin, 66, has been a household name for decades, with credits including the NBC sitcom “30 Rock,” the 1990 film “The Hunt for Red October,” 1996’s “Ghosts of Mississippi” and the animated “Boss Baby” films.

He notably lampooned former President Trump in comedy sketches on Saturday Night Live nearly four dozen times in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, into the Trump presidency and through the 2020 election. The former president wasn’t a fan.

“Alec Baldwin, whose dying mediocre career was saved by his terrible impersonation of me on SNL, now says playing me was agony,” Trump tweeted in 2018. “Alec, it was agony for those who were forced to watch.”

After the “Rust” shooting, Trump revived the grudge when he baselessly claimed during a radio interview that Hutchins’ death may have been intentional.

Baldwin released a statement the day after the shooting, expressing his “shock and sadness regarding the tragic accident.”

“I’m fully cooperating with the police investigation to address how this tragedy occurred and I am in touch with [Hutchens’] husband, offering my support to him and his family. My heart is broken for her husband, their son, and all who knew and loved Halyna,” Baldwin said at the time.

Law enforcement released a video taken in the immediate aftermath of the shooting that showed a frantic Baldwin on the phone.

“You have no idea how unbelievable this is and how strange this is,” Baldwin can be heard saying.

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