Judge Might Throw Out Alec Baldwin's Indictment for Manslaughter? Here's What We Know So Far

A New Mexico judge is considering dismissing the manslaughter charges against Alec Baldwin in the "Rust" shooting case, READ!

Updated on Jun 02, 2024  |  02:49 PM IST |  43.9K
Judge Casts Doubt on Alec Baldwin Manslaughter Indictment (Getty Images)
Alec Baldwin (Getty Images)

Disclaimer: This article contains content related to gunshot and death.

The manslaughter charges against Alec Baldwin in the "Rust" shooting case could be dismissed by a New Mexico judge. Baldwin is accused of accidentally killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. His defense claims the prosecution mishandled the grand jury process and omitted key evidence. The judge will rule on the dismissal next week. If dismissed, charges could be refiled. READ!!!

Will the indictment be dismissed in the Alec Baldwin case?

On Friday, a New Mexico judge expressed doubts about the prosecution's case against Alec Baldwin, suggesting she might dismiss the manslaughter indictment. Baldwin is scheduled for trial in Santa Fe on 10th July for allegedly pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and firing, resulting in her death. Involuntary manslaughter in New Mexico can lead to a maximum prison sentence of 18 months. The mentioned incident took place on the set of this Western Crime Drama on October 21, 2021, when a prop Colt .45 revolver fired a live round, fatally injuring cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Director Joel Souza was harmed in the incident as well. 

Baldwin’s defense team has requested Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer to dismiss the case, arguing that the prosecution failed to make defense witnesses available to the grand jury. During the hearing, Judge Marlowe Sommer questioned prosecutor Kari Morrissey on why she had not contacted these witnesses before the grand jury session. “Common sense tells me you should have reached out ahead of time,” the judge remarked. She also questioned Morrissey’s decision to cut off a witness discussing movie-set safety standards during the grand jury proceedings. Sommer indicated she would rule on the defense motion next week. If the indictment is dismissed, prosecutors may refile the case.

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Rust case courtroom exchanges: Here is all we know

Luke Nikas, Baldwin’s defense attorney, argued that the prosecution had violated a court order and intentionally misled the grand jury by omitting important evidence. “The fix was in,” Nikas claimed. “They never intended for the jury to ask for witnesses.”

The two-hour hearing involved several pointed questions from the judge to Morrissey, noting at least one legal misinterpretation. Toward the end of the session, Morrissey became agitated, accusing defence lawyer Alex Spiro of misrepresenting her conduct. “Everything he’s saying is a complete misrepresentation of what has happened,” Morrissey argued. “And that’s what these people do… I’m not going to sit here and be called a liar.”

The “Rust” case has been marred by prosecutorial errors, though prosecutors secured a conviction against the film’s armorer in March. Baldwin was initially charged in January 2023, but the case was dropped a few months later after the defense raised doubts about the functionality of Baldwin’s gun. A five-year sentence enhancement was also retracted after it was discovered it did not apply at the time of the incident.

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Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the film’s armorer, is currently serving an 18-month sentence after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter for accidentally loading a live round into Baldwin’s gun. Baldwin’s defense team accused the prosecution of several cases of abuse, including failing to inform the grand jury of exculpatory evidence and leaking information to the media. Morrissey countered that Baldwin had repeatedly changed his story about the shooting and that his lawyers had misled the prosecution.

Court filings revealed that Baldwin was offered a plea deal last fall to avoid jail time, but the offer was withdrawn when Morrissey learned of Baldwin’s involvement in a documentary about the case. Morrissey alleged that Baldwin had commissioned the documentary and was pressuring witnesses to participate. Director Rory Kennedy provided a sworn statement asserting that Baldwin had no control or ownership over the documentary. Baldwin’s defense also filed two additional motions to dismiss the case, arguing that the gun was destroyed during FBI testing, preventing them from proving it malfunctioned, and that the allegations did not meet the legal criteria for involuntary manslaughter.

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ALSO READ: Alec Baldwin Wants His Manslaughter Case Dismissed; Is it Possible? Lawyer Chimes in

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