In a significant turn of events, a grand jury has indicted Alec Baldwin on a felony involuntary manslaughter charge, stemming from the tragic incident on the New Mexico set of the Western film “Rust” in 2021. This charge is in relation to the accidental shooting that resulted in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza. Baldwin, who was both the lead actor and a co-producer of “Rust,” was handling the gun during a rehearsal near Santa Fe when it discharged.
This recent indictment follows a detailed examination of the firearm, leading prosecutors to revisit the case and file new charges. The grand jury’s one-page indictment from Friday accuses Baldwin of Hutchins’ death due to either negligence or a “total disregard or indifference” to safety.
Baldwin’s defense team has signaled their intention to contest the charge, which could lead to a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison. Here’s what we know about the unfolding case:
Key Developments and Legal Strategies
Baldwin now has the option to enter a plea either in or out of court, a step that will set the stage for trial proceedings.
The indictment outlines two possible grounds for Baldwin’s involuntary manslaughter charge. The first is based on the negligent handling of the firearm. Baldwin has maintained that he cocked the gun’s hammer but did not pull the trigger. However, a new analysis by Lucien and Michael Haag from Forensic Science Services in Arizona contradicts this, concluding that the trigger must have been pulled to release the hammer. Michael Haag presented these findings as a witness to the grand jury.
An earlier examination by the FBI noted that the type of firearm used by Baldwin could discharge without trigger pull if external force was applied to an uncocked hammer, such as dropping the gun, which eventually broke during their testing.
The second approach for prosecutors involves proving beyond reasonable doubt that Baldwin’s actions led to Hutchins’ death without due caution or circumspection, defined as acting with “total disregard or indifference for the safety of others.”