Alec Baldwin has vowed to fight two counts of involuntary manslaughter during a fatal on-set shooting, with his lawyer calling the case a “terrible miscarriage of justice”.
Hutchins’ family have welcomed the allegations, saying Baldwin had a “conscious disregard for human life”.
The film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reid, who was in charge of the weapons on set, has also been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Assistant Director David Halls signed a plea deal to a charge of reckless use of a deadly weapon.
Director Joel Souza was also injured in the incident on the set of Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Luke Nikas, Baldwin’s lawyer, said the charges “distort the tragic death of Halina Hitchens and represent an appalling miscarriage of justice”.
Mr. Nikas said Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun or anywhere on the film set.
“He relied on the professionals he worked with, who assured him there were no live bullets in the gun.”
He added: “We will fight these charges, and we will win.”
Baldwin’s charges are a sign that a criminal reckoning awaits him — but he remains defiant.
The FBI says Baldwin pulled the trigger.
Rusty’s producers and cinematographer’s family reached a settlement.
Highlights from Baldwin’s post-shooting interview
An attorney for Gutierrez-Reed said she is “very emotional and saddened by this tragic accident, and always has been. But she did not commit involuntary manslaughter.”
“These allegations are the result of a grossly flawed investigation and a misunderstanding of the complete facts.
“We intend to uncover the full truth and believe that a jury will acquit Hannah of wrongdoing.”
Hutchins’ family said they hoped the justice system would “work to hold lawbreakers accountable”.
In a statement released on his behalf, attorney Brian J. Punish said: “We want to thank the Santa Fe Sheriff and District Attorney for completing their thorough investigation and determining that the murder of Helena Hutchins Charges of involuntary manslaughter are warranted for human life.
“Our independent investigation also corroborates the allegations. It is a comfort to the family that, in New Mexico, no one is above the law.
“We support the charges, will fully cooperate with this prosecution, and sincerely hope that the justice system will act to protect the public and hold lawbreakers accountable.”
‘Criminal Negligence Model for Safety’
Prosecutors were given additional funding of $317,750 (around £282,900) to investigate the high-profile case.
The decision on charges comes nearly three months after prosecutors received a final report on the shooting from the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office, following a lengthy investigation that also included the FBI.
Special prosecutor Andrea Reb said: “If any one of these three people – Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reid or David Halls – had done their job, Halina Hitchens would be alive today. It’s that simple.”
Ms. Reb said, “The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal negligence for safety on Rust film sets. In New Mexico, there is no room for film sets that meet our state’s standards for gun safety and public safety. “Doesn’t take the commitment seriously,” Ms. Reb said.
Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Cormack Altweiss announced the charges, saying: “No one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice.”
The first sign of a criminal reckoning
It’s been more than a year since the charges were announced after Halina Hutchins’ death, but for her family and friends, it represents a step toward accountability.
I have spoken to several people who worked on the film’s set, who at the time complained about what one individual described as a “complete disregard” for the welfare and safety of the cast and crew.
A number of civil suits and counter-suits have been filed since the blame and counter-blame game began. But this is the first sign of any criminal reckoning.
Baldwin and Rust Production Company A civil settlement was reached Hutchence settled with Hutchison’s family for an undisclosed amount following a wrongful-death lawsuit by her husband Matthew in October, and announced that production on the film would resume this year.
Several other cases have also been registered in connection with the firing.
what will happen now?
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reid will be “charged in the alternative” with two counts of manslaughter, meaning a jury will decide not only whether they are guilty, but under what definition of involuntary manslaughter they are guilty. Not guilty.
Prosecutors said the first charge can only be described as involuntary manslaughter, and must be based on gross negligence to prove it.
Under New Mexico law, involuntary manslaughter is a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine (about £4,040). The charge also includes a misdemeanor charge of reckless use of a firearm.
The second charge is involuntary manslaughter in the course of a legal process, which requires proof that more than slight negligence was involved.
It is also a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Prosecutors said the charge also carries an additional penalty — because a firearm was involved — that makes the offense a mandatory five-year prison sentence.
Ms. Cormack Alvez and Ms. Reb will formally file charges before the end of January.
Prosecutors said no charges would be filed in connection with Souza’s injuries.
Confirming the details of Halls’ plea agreement, he said the terms include a suspended sentence and six months of probation.
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