A-list Hollywood film star Alec Baldwin, who once grappled with being labeled homophobic, now faces prosecution from a lesbian district attorney on charges of involuntary manslaughter.
Mary Carmack-Altwies, New Mexico’s First Judicial District Attorney, announced the state is bringing charges against Baldwin and another member of the Rust film crew for their roles in the shooting death of Halyna Hutchins in October of 2021.
“After a thorough review of the evidence and the laws of the state of New Mexico, I have determined that there is sufficient evidence to file criminal charges against Alec Baldwin and other members of the ‘Rust’ film crew,” Carmack-Altwies said, in a news release on Jan. 19. “On my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice.”
Baldwin, 64, was holding a gun on the movie set when it discharged, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza. Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer overseeing firearms on set, has also been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.
If convicted of the charges, Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed could face a mandatory five-year prison sentence along with a $5,000 fine.
Luke Nikas, Baldwin’s Manhattan attorney, called the charges, “a terrible miscarriage of justice.” Baldwin maintains he had no reason to believe there was live ammunition in the gun.
“He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds,” said Nikas, in a statement to the media. “We will fight these charges, and we will win.”
Baldwin has appeared in dozens of movies, television shows and stage plays, but is perhaps best known for his performances on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live, where he earned accolades for his portrayal of former President Donald Trump.
In 2013, Baldwin’s MSNBC program was canceled after the actor was involved in a homophobic street tirade in New York, which ran afoul of – in Baldwin’s own words – the “Gay Department of Justice.”
Meanwhile, Carmack-Altwies brings a balanced law career to the case. Prior to being elected district attorney, Carmack-Altwies served as a public defender, taught law school at New Mexico University and served as a legal advocate for victims of sexual assault.
She and her wife Jo, a retired law enforcement officer, have two young children. The couple calls Santa Fe, New Mexico home, where Mary is active in the local parent-teacher association and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Formal charges are expected to be filed at the end of the month and will include a charge of the negligent use of a deadly weapon against assistant director David Halls.
“If any one of these three people — Alec Baldwin, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed or David Halls — had done their job, Halyna Hutchins would be alive today. It’s that simple,” said Andrea Reeb, the special prosecutor appointed by the DA to the case. “The evidence clearly shows a pattern of criminal disregard for safety on the ‘Rust’ film set. In New Mexico, there is no room for film sets that don’t take our state’s commitment to gun safety and public safety seriously.”
According to Russell Cormican, a local criminal defense attorney the prosecutors will have a difficult time proving their case against Baldwin.
“Unlike many other criminal offenses, involuntary manslaughter does not require that the person acted with the intent to commit the crime. Therefore, the fact that Alec Baldwin did not mean to shoot the victim, in this case, is immaterial,” Cormican said. “However, the prosecutor will need to establish that Mr. Baldwin’s actions were reckless and lacking in due care in order to secure a conviction. That may be a difficult task in this case. Mr. Baldwin will be able to argue that he relied in good faith on the representations of a professional armorer, who informed him that the gun was not loaded. The armorer is a trained professional who is skilled in the handling of firearms, so Mr. Baldwin can argue that his reliance on those representations was reasonable and not reckless.”