Alec Baldwin ‘Rust’ Trial Locks New Mexico Jury, Sets Opening Statements for Wednesday

The actor and coproducer is the last to face justice for the accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins

Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin (John Lamparski/Getty Images)

UPDATE 4:00 p.m. PDT:

Alec Baldwin’s “Rust” trial took its first steps on Tuesday afternoon as 12 jurors and four alternates were selected and sworn in. Overseen by Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer in her Santa Fe County courtroom, the New Mexico residents were comprised of 11 women and five men.

Opening statements in the actor’s involuntary manslaughter trial for the killing of “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins were set to begin Wednesday.

UPDATE 9:30 a.m. PDT:
Jury selection got underway Tuesday morning in the manslaughter trial of Alec Baldwin, who faces up to 18 months in a New Mexico prison if convicted. Baldwin was in court, along with his brother Billy and wife Hilaria.

Cameras were not permitted in the courtroom during jury selection, which was expected to take most of Tuesday. Opening arguments could begin as soon as Wednesday.

EARLIER:

When Alec Baldwin’s manslaughter trial begins Tuesday, he’ll be armed with top-gun defense lawyers, the power of his outsized celebrity and a possible scapegoat: Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the “Rust” armorer already serving time in a New Mexico prison for the accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

But Baldwin’s path to avoiding a similar fate – Gutierrez-Reed was hauled off by deputies just minutes after her March 6 guilty verdict was read before a shocked courtroom – is precarious and narrow, legal experts have told TheWrap.

Especially since Baldwin was the one holding the gun.

The infamous October 2021 incident on the low-budget Western near Santa Fe netted Gutierrez-Reed’s conviction, as well as a guilty plea on a misdemeanor negligence charge from assistant director David Halls. Baldwin, as the last crew member to face criminal justice for the “Rust” disaster, also has the advantage of having seen the lion’s share of the state’s evidence already.

And on Monday, the judge overseeing the case gave Baldwin a small legal victory when she declared that prosecutors could not present evidence of his role as co-producer. The state had intended to argue that in that position, Baldwin failed as overseer of set safety, beyond just recklessly pointing guns as an actor.

But that’s where Baldwin’s advantages seem to run out.

Never-before-seen set footage presented as evidence during the Gutierrez-Reed trial showed clip after clip of Baldwin’s cavalier handling of weapons, including barking orders at his crew to hastily reload, and another where he uses a gun as a “pointing stick” to move cast and crew around. And the jury can also see the outcomes for Halls and Gutierrez-Reed as a foundation for the idea that this was more than just a tragic accident, legal experts say.

Since the incident well over two years ago, Baldwin has been free on bail and has not shied from the spotlight. He told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in a tearful interview just weeks later that he didn’t pull the trigger, has maintained that position – and his innocence – ever since. And Baldwin and wife Hilaria, who share seven children, announced last month that they will debut a new reality series, “The Baldwins,” on TLC sometime in 2025.

Jury selection was slated to begin Tuesday, with the trial expected to last two weeks or more. Baldwin, expected in the courtroom daily, faces up to 18 months in jail with possible fines; he also faces multiple civil cases in California and New Mexico.

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