The Guardian

Alec Baldwin dubbed ‘reckless’ as manslaught­er trial begins

- Dani Anguiano Santa Fe

Alec Baldwin violated the “cardinal rules of firearm safety” on the film set of Rust, prosecutor­s have argued in the actor’s involuntar­y manslaught­er trial, which got under way yesterday in Santa Fe.

Almost three years after the fatal shooting, prosecutor­s began to lay out their case against Baldwin, painting a picture of an unsafe workplace on a tight budget, while the defence argued that he “committed no crime” and was simply “an actor, acting”.

The state said Baldwin acted in a reckless manner that led to the death of the cinematogr­apher Halyna Hutchins, who was killed on the film’s set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, a popular filming location 30 minutes outside the city, in October 2021.

Baldwin was rehearsing when he pointed a prop firearm at Hutchins and the weapon fired a single bullet, killing Hutchins and injuring the director, Joel Souza. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The evidence will show that the gun was functional, the prosecutor, Erlinda Johnson, said, despite Baldwin’s statements that it had malfunctio­ned. But Baldwin failed to carry out a safety check and repeatedly violated safety rules with the weapon by leaving his finger on the hammer and trigger and pointing it at people while filming, she argued.

“He pointed the gun at another human being, cocked the gun and pulled that trigger in reckless disregard for Ms Hutchins’ safety,” Johnson said. “The evidence will show that someone who played make-believe with a real gun and violated the cardinal rules of firearm safety is the defendant, Alexander Baldwin.”

The trial will focus on the Colt .45 used in the shooting. Baldwin has claimed that he did not fire the weapon, but the prosecutio­n contends that forensic testing on the gun had shown that the actor pulled the trigger and that Baldwin was negligent in his handling of it.

The defence argued that Baldwin was focused on playing a character and was not responsibl­e for checking the gun. Others on set were tasked with ensuring the weapon’s safety, Alex Spiro, a defence attorney, said.

The critical issue in the case, he said, was how a real bullet found its way on to the film set: “The evidence will show that on a movie set, safety has to occur before the gun is placed in an actor’s hands.”

He said Hutchins’ death was an “unspeakabl­e tragedy” but that “Alec Baldwin committed no crime; he was an actor, acting”.

The trial continues.

‘He pointed the gun, cocked the gun, and pulled that trigger’

Erlinda Johnson Prosecutor

 ?? PHOTOGRAPH: ROSS D FRANKLIN/AP ?? Alec Baldwin arriving at Santa Fe county district court yesterday. His defence team argue he was not responsibl­e for checking the firearm that killed Halyna Hutchins
PHOTOGRAPH: ROSS D FRANKLIN/AP Alec Baldwin arriving at Santa Fe county district court yesterday. His defence team argue he was not responsibl­e for checking the firearm that killed Halyna Hutchins

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