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Armourer who handed gun to Alec Baldwin in fatal Rust movie set shooting found guilty

The jury deliberated for 2.5 hours before delivering the verdict against Hannah Gutierrez-Reed on Wednesday, in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Andrea Cavallier,Graig Graziosi,Mike Bedigan
Thursday 07 March 2024 05:54 GMT
Rust armorer was ’worried about her career' after death of Halyna Hutchins

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armourer who gave Alec Baldwin a gun on the set of the doomed movie Rust has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in connection to the accidental 2021 shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

The jury deliberated for 2.5 hours before delivering the verdict on Wednesday at the First Judicial District Courthouse in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Gutierrez-Reed, 26, did not take the stand in her own defence during the trial, which lasted nearly two weeks. She was also charged with evidence tampering, but was found not guilty on this charge.

The armourer did not appear to react as the verdicts were read out, though supporters gathered in the court were visibly upset. She was remanded in custody, with a date for her sentencing still to be set.

During closing arguments, prosecutor Kari Morrissey said Gutierrez-Reed “repeatedly” failed to maintain proper firearm safety and that her negligence led to the death of Ms Hutchins.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter (Santa Fe New Mexican)

Gutierrez-Reed’s defence attorney Jason Bowles, however, had claimed that Gutierrez-Reed was a “convenient scapegoat” to take the fall for the shooting.

“Justice for Halyna does not mean injustice for Hannah,” he said.

The production of the Western film Rust came to a tragic end in October 2021 when its director of photography, Halyna Hutchins, was shot and killed while rehearsing a scene with its star and producer Alec Baldwin.

Mr Baldwin pulled a Colt 45 replica from his holster in practice for a scene. The gun went off and a bullet struck Hutchins in the chest, exiting her body and then striking director Joel Souza in the stomach. Hutchins died from her injuries, while Mr Souza survived.

The actor is also facing involuntary manslaughter charges related to the shooting. His trial will begin on 9 July.

Halyna Hutchins died following the incident on the set of the ‘Rust’ movie in October 2021 (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Prosecutors said Gutierrez-Reed unknowingly brought live ammunition onto the set at a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe, where the rounds lingered for at least 12 days until the fatal shooting.

Ms Morrissey described “constant, never-ending safety failures” on the set and Gutierrez-Reed’s “astonishing lack of diligence” with gun safety, making a fatal accident “willful and foreseeable."

“We end exactly where we began — in the pursuit of justice for Halyna Hutchins,” Ms Morrissey told the jury. “Hannah Gutierrez failed to maintain firearms safety, making a fatal accident willful and foreseeable.”

Prosecutors contended the armorer repeatedly skipped or skimped on standard gun-safety protocols that might have detected live rounds on set.

“This was a game of Russian roulette every time an actor had a gun with dummies,” Ms Morrissey said.

Alec Baldwin on the set of western movie, Rust (Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office)

Defence attorneys said problems on the movie set extended far beyond Gutierrez-Reed’s control, including the mishandling of weapons by Mr Baldwin, the lead actor and co-producer who crew members were loath to confront.

They claimed prosecutors did not come close to proving where live ammunition originated, failing to fully investigate an Albuquerque-based ammunition supplier.

The prosecution painstakingly assembled photographic evidence and said traces the arrival and spread of live rounds on set, using testimony from eyewitnesses to the shooting including Mr Souza to reconstruct the day it happened on 21 October 2021.

Prosecutors said six live rounds found on the set bore mostly identical characteristics — and didn’t match live rounds seized from the movie’s supplier in Albuquerque.

Defence attorneys argued that the cluttered supply office was not searched until a month after the fatal shooting, undermining the significance of physical evidence there.

Dozens of witnesses testified over the course of 10 days at trial, ranging from FBI experts in firearms and crime-scene forensics, to a camera dolly operator who described the fatal gunshot and watched Hutchins “go flush” and lose feelings in her legs before death.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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