Alec Baldwin faces trial for the horrific “Rust” shooting, jury selection is underway.

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By Ruvie S

From left to right, lawyer Alex Spiro, Alec Baldwin, lawyer Luke Nikas and lawyer Heather LeBlanc participate in a pretrial hearing in Santa Fe, N.M., July 8, 2024.

Source: Ross D. Franklin/via Reuters

The manslaughter trial of Alec Baldwin, who is accused of shooting a crew member on the set of “Rust” in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2021, is due to start jury selection on Tuesday.

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, 42, was tragically shot by a live bullet from a Colt.45 revolver when the actor was practicing a cross-draw in a church on the Western film set.

In relation to Hutchins’s death earlier this year, Alec Baldwin, 66, who was also the movie’s producer, was charged with involuntary manslaughter by a grand jury after the prosecution had previously dismissed the charge. He made a not guilty plea.

A grand jury accused Alec Baldwin, 66, a producer on the movie as well as an involuntary manslaughter in relation to Hutchins’s death earlier this year. The prosecution had previously dismissed the case. Not guilty was his plea.

The trial is set to last through July 19, and jury selection is anticipated to take place in a single day. Although the FBI’s forensic assessment found the gun could not have been shot without a pull of the trigger, Alec Baldwin has insisted he did not pull the trigger.

Source: Getty Images

Throughout the trial, prosecutors aimed to prove that Alec Baldwin was the producer responsible for the dangerous conditions on the set. During a Monday evidence hearing, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommers, however, made a decision that went against the prosecution.

Defendant Luke Nikas said during the arguments before the judge that Alec Baldwin’s assertion that he was responsible for the death from an on-set gunshot because of his carelessness as a producer was “far more prejudicial than it is probative” and ought to be dismissed.

Erlinda Ocampo Johnson, the prosecutor, countered that it was important to show the jury that Alec Baldwin was “aware of his safety obligations” and “has the power to control safety on set” in his capacity as a producer.

According to Marlowe Sommers, who rejected the evidence, the probative value was “not substantially outweighed by unfair prejudice and certainly confusion of issues to the jury.”

In addition to making other evidentiary decisions, the judge decided that while videos from the “Rust” set demonstrating Alec Baldwin’s handling of the gun could be used in court, those showing him swearing or screaming at the crew to go faster had no bearing on the case.

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In the weeks preceding the trial, Alec Baldwin’s defense team filed a number of applications to have his indictment dismissed; all of these petitions were denied.

Additionally, Marlowe Sommer turned down the state’s request last month to invoke immunity in order to force Hannah Gutierrez, the armorer in the movie, to testify during Alec Baldwin’s trial. The maximum punishment of 18 months in prison was meted out to Gutierrez, 27, in April after he was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in relation to the incident. May was her appeal of her conviction.

In order to prevent her testimony from being used against her in her appeal, the prosecution requested immunity. Prosecutors stated that Gutierrez cited her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a pretrial interview in May.

The armorer said she wouldn’t testify, and Marlowe Sommer noted in her decision that she hasn’t heard “anything that [Gutierrez] might testify to that someone else could not testify to.” Although he would not be granted immunity, Gutierrez might still be called to testify.

Source: Mostafa Bassim Adly/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

“Rust” director Joel Souza, who was also hit by the live bullet, and David Halls, the movie’s safety coordinator, who was given a six-month unsupervised probationary term in connection with the incident, are among the witnesses named by the state and defense that may also be summoned to testify. Both gave testimony in the trial of Gutierrez.

A clip of Alec Baldwin discharging a gun after “cut” was called was among the video from the “Rust” filming that was displayed during Gutierrez’s trial. During her closing statement, prosecutor Kari Morrissey highlighted Alec Baldwin’s involvement in the shooting, informing the jurors that “Alec Baldwin is going to have to answer for his conduct and his lack of gun safety inside that church on that day.” Not now, and not with you.”

Film’s safety coordinator David Halls, who was given a six-month unsupervised probationary term in connection with the shooting, and “Rust” director Joel Souza, who was also hit by a live bullet, are among the witnesses on the state’s and defense’s witness lists who might also be asked to testify. During Gutierrez’s trial, both gave testimony.

A take depicting Alec Baldwin firing a gun after “cut” was called was among the movie stills from the “Rust” film that were exhibited at Gutierrez’s trial. “Alec Baldwin’s conduct and his lack of gun safety inside that church on that day is something that he’s going to have to answer for,” prosecutor Kari Morrissey told the jurors during her closing argument in reference to Alec Baldwin’s involvement in the massacre. Neither today nor with you.”

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