“Rust” director Joel Souza has been named as one of the 44 witnesses selected by prosecutors for the involuntary manslaughter trial against the film’s actor-producer Alec Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed in connection to the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
Souza was wounded in the incident that killed Hutchins when a gun being held by Baldwin discharged. Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed have each been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, the first charge carrying a maximum prison sentence of 18 months while the second charge, which has a firearm enhancement and requires prosecutors to prove guilt beyond criminal negligence, carries a maximum of five years in prison.
Prosecutors are giving a future jury the option to decide which count they wish to focus on in deliberations.
Along with detectives and FBI forensics experts who have investigated the incident, the witness list, which can be read here, also includes “Rust” script supervisor Maime Mitchell, who was present when Hutchins and Souza were shot; Sarah Zachry, the production’s prop master; and Seth Kenney, the armorer mentor who recommended Gutierrez-Reed to be armorer for “Rust” and who supplied firearms for the production.
Also on the witness list is Lane Luper, a first camera assistant on the production who, among several other crew members, resigned in protest the day before Hutchins’ death. In an email to “Rust” producers announcing his resignation, Luper denounced the lax safety measures during shooting, saying that there had been three accidental firearm discharges.
One witness who is not testifying is first assistant director David Halls, who according to witness testimony to law enforcement was the one who handed Baldwin the gun and said that it was a “cold gun,” meaning that it was not loaded with live rounds. Halls struck a plea agreement with prosecutors to avoid further charges that remains sealed.
Preliminary hearings for the trial are set to be held on February 24. Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed, who have denied all wrongdoing through their legal representatives, are expected to appear via videoconferencing.