Morgan Lee, Andrew Dalton and The Associated Press

14 mins ago

Note to viewers: The video player above broadcasts live testimony from witnesses in court. It may contain graphic details and strong language.

SANTA FE, NM (AP) — On the first day of his trial in New Mexico for the shooting of a cameraman, prosecutors tried to portray Alec Baldwin as someone who flouted rules and had little regard for safety.

Special Counsel Erlinda Ocampo Johnson repeatedly pointed to Baldwin playing a “pretend game” with a revolver on the set of the movie “Rust,” saying it led to very real danger and the death of Halyna Hutchins, whom she described as a “vibrant 42-year-old rising star.”

Ocampo Johnson told jurors in her opening statement Wednesday that Baldwin “asked to be given the largest gun available” and that during a training session for it, “people filmed him running around with that gun and shooting.”

The prosecutor said behind-the-scenes video footage showed Baldwin casually disregarding basic safety rules when handling firearms.

“You'll see him use that gun as a sight to point at people or things,” Ocampo Johnson said. “You'll see him cock the hammer when he's not supposed to cock it, you'll see him put his finger on the trigger when his finger isn't supposed to be on the trigger.”

A video scene showing actor Alec Baldwin during his sentencing hearing in Santa Fe County District Court on Wednesday, July 10, 2024, in Santa Fe, N.M. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)

Hutchins' death and the injury of director Joel Souza nearly three years ago sent shockwaves through the film industry and led to manslaughter charges against Baldwin, which could result in a prison sentence of up to 18 months.

The trial of the 66-year-old star of “30 Rock” and frequent host of “Saturday Night Live” will continue Thursday with testimony from a forensic technician with the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Department.

As technician Marissa Poppell began her testimony, jurors were able to see the revolver and the fired cartridge from the shooting.

Baldwin's lawyer Alex Spiro emphasized in his opening statement that Baldwin had only done what actors always do.

“He has to be able to take that gun and use it the way the person he's playing would,” Spiro told jurors.

That includes pulling the trigger, Spiro said. Baldwin said the gun went off accidentally, but Spiro said it wouldn't be manslaughter even if he had fired it intentionally.

“On a movie set, you’re allowed to pull the trigger,” Spiro said.

Baldwin listens during his hearing in Santa Fe County District Court, Wednesday, July 10, 2024, in Santa Fe, N.M. Baldwin is charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of a cameraman. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)

Spiro called the shooting an “unspeakable tragedy” and said an “unbelievable person” had died, but blame lay with the film's gunsmith, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who has already been convicted of manslaughter, and assistant director David Halls, who told Baldwin the gun was “cold.”

“It was checked multiple times by those responsible for the safety of the weapon,” Spiro said. “He did not tamper with it and did not load it himself. He did not leave it unattended.”

The first witness to take the stand was Nicholas LeFleur, the first police officer to arrive at the Bonanza Creek Ranch film set after the shooting, and his pin-up camera video gave jurors a glimpse into the chaotic scene: a grim image of an apparently unconscious Hutchins while LeFleur and others tried to resuscitate her.

Later in the video, LeFleur is seen telling Baldwin not to talk to the other possible witnesses, which Baldwin repeatedly does.

“Should Mr. Baldwin talk about the incident?” Special Prosecutor Kari Morrissey asked him.

“No, ma'am,” LeFleur replied.

“Does it look like he’s going to do it anyway?” asked Morrissey.

“Yes, ma'am,” said LeFleur.

Among those sitting in the gallery behind Baldwin watching the trial were his wife, Hilaria Baldwin, his younger brother, Stephen Baldwin, and his older sister, Elizabeth Keuchler – who at times wiped tears from her eyes during the proceedings.

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