Judge Rules on Baldwin's Ask Over Dropping Criminal Charge

Actor loses bid to nix manslaughter charge, meaning 'Rust' trial is on track for this summer
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 25, 2024 8:30 AM CDT
Baldwin's Bid to Nix Manslaughter Charge Fails
Alec Baldwin emcees the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Award Gala at the New York Hilton Midtown on Dec. 9, 2021, in New York. On Friday, a New Mexico judge rejected a request by Baldwin to dismiss the sole criminal charge against him in a fatal shooting on the set of "Rust," keeping...   (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

A New Mexico judge has rejected a request by Alec Baldwin to dismiss the sole criminal charge against him in a fatal shooting on the set of the movie Rust, keeping the case on track for a trial this summer. Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer on Friday upheld an indictment charging Baldwin with one count of involuntary manslaughter in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in 2021, per the AP. The judge rejected defense arguments that prosecutors flouted the rules of grand jury proceedings to divert attention away from exculpatory evidence and witnesses. Special prosecutors have denied accusations that the grand jury proceedings were marred and say Baldwin made "shameless" attempts to escape culpability, highlighting contradictions in his statements to law enforcement, to workplace safety regulators, and in a televised interview.

Friday's decision removes one of the last hurdles for prosecutors to put Baldwin on trial in July. "We look forward to our day in court," defense attorneys Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro said in an email. During a rehearsal on the set of the Western film, Baldwin was pointing a gun at Hutchins when the revolver went off, killing her and injuring director Joel Souza. Baldwin has maintained that he pulled back the gun's hammer but not the trigger. He has pleaded not guilty to the involuntary manslaughter charge, which carries a maximum sentence of 1.5 years in prison. Marlowe Sommer rejected arguments that prosecutors acted in "bad faith" after reviewing transcripts of the January grand jury proceedings, noting that prosecutors aren't required to present exculpatory evidence.

"New Mexico law does not require a prosecutor to present exculpatory evidence to a grand jury, or require a grand jury to even consider exculpatory evidence after alerted to its existence," the judge wrote. Prosecutors last year dismissed an earlier involuntary manslaughter charge against Baldwin after being told the gun he was holding may have been modified before the shooting and malfunctioned. A new analysis of the gun last year enabled prosecutors to reboot the case. Prosecutors have turned their full attention to Baldwin after a judge in April sentenced armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed to the maximum of 1.5 years at a state penitentiary on an involuntary manslaughter conviction for Hutchins' death. More here.

(More Alec Baldwin stories.)

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