‘Rust’ shooting: Alec Baldwin trial begins; judge rules actor’s role as producer not relevant

Alec Baldwin

Actor Alec Baldwin is standing trial this week for his role in the deadly on-set shooting in 2021.

Baldwin is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, The New York Times reported.

Judge Mary Marlowe Summer ruled Monday that Baldwin’s position of producer on the film “Rust” was not relevant to the case. Prosecutors had planned to use Baldwin’s producer role to illustrate that he bore more responsibility for Hutchins’ death.

“As the producer, he has the power to control safety on the set, and there was a tremendous lack of safety on this set, Erlinda Johnson said in court, according to the Times.

Baldwin’s attorneys said he was part of creative decisions but hiring and budgeting were handled by other members of the production team.

“I’m having real difficulty with the state’s position that they want to show that, as a producer, he didn’t follow guidelines and therefore, as an actor, Mr. Baldwin did all of these things wrong resulting in the death of Ms. Hutchins because as a producer he allowed these things to happen. I’m denying evidence of his status as a producer.”” Sommer said, according to The Associated Press.

The judge has allowed some videos from the set showing Baldwin handling firearms, which prosecutors say show him being reckless on set. One video is said to show the actor with his finger on a trigger when it was not required, as well as his using a gun as a pointer to give direction to crew members.

Other videos — some purported to show Baldwin telling crew members to hurry — will not be permitted during the trial, Summer ruled.

A grand jury indicted Baldwin for the Oct. 21, 2021, shooting death of Hutchins. He was practicing a scene on set when the gun he had been holding went off. Instead of a blank, the gun contained a live bullet.

Rust Movie Productions paid a $100,000 fine to resolve state safety violations that were called “serious” but were not willful, the AP reported.

He has pleaded not guilty. Baldwin said he was told the firearm did not have live ammunition. He also claims he did not pull the trigger when the gun fired.

Baldwin faces up to 18 months in prison if convicted.

Tuesday is jury selection, with opening arguments expected to start on Wednesday. The trial is scheduled to last 10 days, the AP reported.

The film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 18 months in prison. She is appealing the conviction, AP reported.

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