Thursday, January 19, 2023

Hallmark actor’s brother charged with fatal shooting

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Actor Alec Baldwin has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for the 2021 filming that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza on the set of Rust in New Mexico, according to the New York Times. It’s a stunning turn of events for the famous actor, who has maintained his innocence since the fatal accident happened while practicing with the gun between takes. He returned to filmmaking in March 2022, working on two Christmas films with his brother, Hallmark Channel graduate William Baldwin, and planning to wrap up filming on Rust with much of his original cast and crew earlier this year. Here’s what you need to know:

New Mexico prosecutors announced on January 19, 2023 that Alec Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the film’s gunsmith who oversaw on-set gun safety, both face charges of two counts of negligent manslaughter, with charges pending officially until the end the month. In addition, according to the New York Times, Dave Halls, the film’s first assistant director, who presented Baldwin with the gun, pleaded guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon in exchange for a suspended sentence and six months’ probation.

According to Deadline, New Mexico District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said in a statement, “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 pursue criminal charges against Alec Baldwin and other members of the ‘Rust’ film crew. Under my watch no one is above the law and everyone deserves justice.”

The first charge, per term, is a fourth-degree felony with a possible $5,000 fine and up to 18 months in prison. The second, which the outlet said faces a charge of “involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act,” is also a fourth-degree felony with the same possible consequences — up to 18 months behind bars and a fine of $5,000 — but because it involves a firearm, it escalates to a mandatory five years behind bars if Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed are found guilty.

In an interview with CNN, Carmack-Altwies said, “That was a really quick and easy set, and … no one was doing their job. There were three people who wouldn’t have happened to this tragedy if they had done their jobs that day — and they’re David Halls and Hannah Gutierrez Reed and Alec Baldwin. If only they had fulfilled their basic duties, we wouldn’t be standing here.”

In a statement to NBC News, Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas, said the actor has maintained his innocence and will be taking action against the charges.

“This decision distorts the tragic death of Halyna Hutchins and constitutes a terrible miscarriage of justice,” Nikas said. “Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the film set. He relied on the professionals he worked with to assure him the gun had no live rounds. We will fight these allegations and we will win.”

Meanwhile, a defense attorney for Gutierrez-Reed, Jason Bowles, said his client was not responsible for Hutchin’s death either.

“Hannah is and always has been very emotional and saddened by this tragic accident,” Bowles said in a statement to NBC News. “But she didn’t commit involuntary manslaughter. These allegations are the result of a very flawed investigation and an inaccurate understanding of the full facts. We intend to bring the full truth to light and believe that Hannah will be acquitted of her wrongdoing by a jury.”

Hutchins, who was 42 at the time of her death, was survived by her husband Matthew Hutchins and their nine-year-old son Aldous. According to NBC News, Brian Panish, an attorney for the family, also issued a statement thanking authorities for their “thorough investigation and determination that the involuntary manslaughter charges are warranted.”

In October 2022, CNN reported that the Hutchins family reached an undisclosed settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against Baldwin and crew members on the set of “Rust.”

It’s not yet clear what will happen to Baldwin’s current film projects, including the two live-action/animated hybrid Christmas films he co-produced and starred in with his brother William, entitled Kid Santa. and Billie’s Magic World.

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