The Santa Fe District Attorney has downgraded the criminal charges brought against Alec Baldwin for his involvement in the shooting death of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, The Hollywood Reporter notes. Armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed has also had her charges decreased.
Both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed are still being charged with involuntary manslaughter, but the firearm enhancement charge added to the second count in their cases has been dropped, removing a possible five-year prison sentence for both parties. The remaining involuntary manslaughter charge means both the actor-producer and the armorer could face a maximum 18-month prison sentence.
The downgraded charges come after lawyers for the defendants argued that the enhancement charge was based on a New Mexico law that passed after Hutchins’ death in October 2021. “In order to avoid further litigious distractions by Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys, the District Attorney and the special prosecutor have removed the firearm enhancement to the involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of Halyna Hutchins on the Rust film set,” Heather Brewer, spokesperson for the New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney, said in a statement. “The prosecution’s priority is securing justice, not securing billable hours for big-city attorneys.”
Baldwin was practicing drawing an old-fashioned revolver on the set of Rust on October 21st, 2021 when the gun fired, striking both Hutchins and director Joel Souza. Souza survived, while Hutchins died after being transported to the hospital. Gutierrez-Reed loaded the gun and assistant director Dave Halls handed it to Baldwin; both maintained they were unaware that a live round was in the gun, while Baldwin claimed he never fired the gun at all.
Despite these charges, Baldwin will resume filming Rust when the Western picks up production this spring. The film has added new safety officers to the production and will begin working under union rules. Hutchins’ widower, Matthew, has also been named as an executive producer on the project.