Alec Baldwin has pleaded not guilty to felony charges of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was killed while working on the set of “Rust” in October 2021.
Baldwin, who was a lead actor and co-producer on the movie, and weapons supervisor Hannah Gutierrez-Reed were charged with felony involuntary manslaughter last month.
In court documents filed on Thursday, Baldwin waived his first formal court appearance and pleaded not guilty to the charges. He also agreed to forgo a hearing to have his rights explained to him.
The judge set conditions of release that allow Baldwin to have limited contact with potential witnesses in connection with plans to complete the filming of “Rust.” However, Baldwin is prohibited from discussing the accident at issue.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys are preparing for a likely preliminary hearing within a few months to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial. The involuntary manslaughter charges against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed are punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine under New Mexico law.
In addition to the limited contact with potential witnesses, Baldwin’s pretrial release also includes a prohibition on consuming alcohol and against any possession of weapons, including firearms. The shooting incident has raised questions about safety protocols on film sets and has prompted calls for stricter regulations to prevent such accidents in the future.
Alec Baldwin’s attorney calls charges “a terrible miscarriage of justice”
Following Baldwin’s plea of not guilty, new details have emerged about the incident.
Authorities have said that Baldwin was pointing a pistol at Hutchins when the gun went off, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza.
Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas, has called the charges a “terrible miscarriage of justice,” saying that Baldwin relied on the professionals with whom he worked and “had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun.”
Production on “Rust” was halted with Hutchins’ death, but Rust Movie Productions has announced that filming is expected to resume this spring without the use of real weapons or ammunition. Hutchins’ widower, Matthew Hutchins, will be the film’s new executive producer, fulfilling the terms of a legal settlement to a wrongful death lawsuit against Baldwin and other “Rust” producers.
In addition, a related documentary is planned that would detail the completion of the film and the life of Hutchins.
Meanwhile, armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was also charged with involuntary manslaughter in the incident, is scheduled to appear remotely at a court hearing on Friday, and her attorney says she will enter a plea of not guilty.
Prosecutors have said that assistant director David Halls, who oversaw safety on set, has signed an agreement to plead guilty in the negligent use of a deadly weapon, explaining that he may have handled the gun improperly before it was given to Baldwin. A judge is scheduled to consider approval of the plea agreement in March. Halls waived his first appearance in court.