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‘Rust’ Special Prosecutor Quits After Enhancement Charges Scuttled: ‘Best Way I Can Ensure Justice Is Served’

Andrea Reeb says she is leaving the case ”so that the prosecution can focus on the evidence and the facts“

The New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney’s office announced on Tuesday that special prosecutor Andrea Reeb has stepped down from the “Rust” case ahead of the upcoming trial where actor-producer Alec Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed face involuntary manslaughter charges.

“After much reflection, I have made the difficult decision to step down as special prosecutor in the ‘Rust’ case. My priority in this case—and in every case I’ve prosecuted in my 25-year career—has been justice for the victim,” Reeb said in a statement received by TheWrap.

“However, it has become clear that the best way I can ensure justice is served in this case is to step down so that the prosecution can focus on the evidence and the facts, which clearly show a complete disregard for basic safety protocols led to the death of Halyna Hutchins. I will not allow questions about my serving as a legislator and prosecutor to cloud the real issue at hand,” the statement continued.

Last month, prosecutors dropped firearm enhancement charges against Baldwin and “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reid, a tier above regular manslaughter charge that carries a mandatory minimum of five years. With only manslaughter charges remaining, Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed could wind up doing little or no jail time, as the maximum sentence in New Mexico is 18 months.

The move by Reeb and the DA’s office to press enhancement charges faced criticism from Baldwin’s attorneys and legal experts, as they were based in state laws that were not in effect at the time of the accidental shooting that killed “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Baldwin’s attorneys had also filed a motion last month to remove Reeb from the case, arguing that as a recently elected member of the New Mexico state legislature, Reeb’s presence on the case was a violation of the state constitution, which dictates that one branch of government cannot exercise power in another branch.

In a court filing earlier this month, prosecutors rejected that argument, saying that “accepting [the] Defendant’s theory would require the Court to create new law, which would have state-wide implications, based on nothing more than creative, legally unsupported argument.”

But now, Reeb’s recusal from the upcoming trial means that the DA’s office will have to find a new prosecutor for the high-profile case, which will next hold a two-week evidentiary hearing starting on March 3.