close
close

The trial of actor Alec Baldwin for manslaughter began with opening statements on Wednesday – almost three years after camerawoman Halyna Hutchins was shot and killed on the set of the western film “Rust” in New Mexico.

If convicted, the actor faces up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Here is a summary of the testimony from the prosecution and defense, the witnesses we interviewed, and the footage used as evidence:

Prosecution: Prosecutors accused Baldwin of “playing pretend with a real gun.”

  • Prosecutor Erlinda Johnson repeatedly said the jury would hear that the gun used in the Rust shooting “functioned perfectly.” The prosecutor told the jury that the company that sold the gun said the gun in question had undergone quality control.
  • Johnson told jurors that after shooting Hutchins, Baldwin began claiming he didn't pull the trigger. “The evidence will show, ladies and gentlemen, that's not possible.”
  • Johnson concluded her opening statement by saying that the only way to bring justice to Hutchins was “a guilty verdict of manslaughter.”

Defense: Baldwin's lawyers argued that the actor believed he had been handed a cold weapon at the time of the shooting.

  • Defense attorney Alex Spiro said that while the shooting itself was a tragedy, Baldwin did not commit a crime. “He was an actor and he was acting. He was playing the role of Harland Rust. An actor playing a character can behave in a way that is deadly that is just not deadly on a movie set,” Spiro said. He went on to say that the people responsible for security on set failed in their duty.
  • Spiro told jurors that “the evidence will show that on a movie set, safety must be ensured before the prop is put in the hands of an actor.” Before Baldwin took the gun for testing, it was classified as a “cold gun,” meaning it had been checked and was safe. He said that “a cold gun does not mean there is no live ammunition,” but rather that a cold gun does not even contain a fake bullet.
  • Spiro said evidence presented during the trial showed Baldwin was experiencing “shocking grief.” Spiro noted that Baldwin had met with Hutchins' family and called police to offer to meet with them “over and over again.”

Witnesses:

  • Nicholas Lefleur: He was a deputy with the Santa Fe Sheriff's Department at the time of the shooting and testified that he was the first to arrive at the scene.
  • Timoteo Benavidez: The retired Sante Fe Police Department lieutenant was the day shift commander on the “Rust” set the day of the 2021 shooting. Prosecutors showed the jury the gun used in the shooting. Benavidez identified the gun and testified that master-at-arms Hannah Gutierrez Reed gave it to him. He placed the gun in the front seat of his car. When he checked the gun, Benavidez testified that there were no bullets in it. He said he did not know who else had the gun between the shooting and the time it was given to him. He also said he did not know what happened to the bullets.
  • Joseph Lujan: The Santa Fe Sheriff's Department detective testified on behalf of the prosecution and provided details about how the “Rust” director was treated for his injury.
  • Marissa PoppelA forensic investigator said she discovered five suspected live ammunitions and an empty cartridge case on the set of “Rust.”

Video evidence:

  • Jurors saw body camera footage showing Lefleur addressing Baldwin on set after the shooting. “I held the gun, yes,” Baldwin responds when Lefleur asks him about the incident.
  • Lefleur is seen sitting outside with Baldwin during his captivity, while several crew members stand around and talk about what happened.
  • During cross-examination, the defense played the emergency call about the shooting. A woman who said she works as a script supervisor said: “We had two people on the film set accidentally shot with a prop gun. We need help immediately.”
  • A video showed gunsmith Gutierrez Reed becoming angry and beginning to cry when she identified the bullets used in the shooting. In the video, she can be seen saying “sorry” several times while breathing heavily. Benavidez told her to relax while he tried to calm her down. Gutierrez Reed told Benavidez that the ammunition was used for the gun involved in the shooting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *