Prosecutors have dropped a key charge against Alec Baldwin which would have seen him jailed for five years after shooting dead ‘Rust’ cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
The Santa Fe County District Attorney’s office has dropped a gun enhancement charge against the actor – meaning that even if he is convicted of the involuntary manslaughter charge, he may not spend any time behind bars.
A lawyer on behalf of Baldwin filed a motion excoriating prosecutors for going after the actor with a law that did not apply to him last week.
Initially, the gun enhancement charge was tacked onto his involuntary manslaughter charges, but Santa Fe DA’s office confirmed to DailyMail.com that it was removed on Friday.
The charge requires the person who has used the gun to ‘brandish’ the weapon, meaning the gun was displayed with intent to intimidate or injure a person.
At the time of the shooting, Baldwin was on set shooting for ‘Rust’, meaning that it is unlikely that the charge meets the New Mexico law.
However a new amendment to the law means that brandishing is no longer needed – a change that happened seven months after the fatal incident.
Santa Fe District Attorney said in a statement: ‘In order to avoid further litigious distractions by Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys, the District Attorney and the special prosecutor have removed the firearm enhancement to the involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of Halyna Hutchins on the ‘Rust’ film set.
‘The prosecution’s priority is securing justice, not securing billable hours for big-city attorneys.’
The aggressive statement comes days after Baldwin’s lawyers argued about the charge, citing the change in the law in their arguments.
Baldwin and ‘Rust’ armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed were both charged with involuntary manslaughter in January as prosecutors cited a ‘criminal disregard for safety.’
They have now both had the enhanced charges against them dropped, less than a month after they were brought.
In their motion filed on February 10, Baldwin’s lawyers asked Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer to throw out the enhancement violation completely.
His legal team, led by New York attorney Luke Nikas, said: ‘The prosecutors committed a basic legal error by charging Mr. Baldwin under a version of the firearm-enhancement statute that did not exist on the date of the accident.
‘That version of the statute could not apply to conduct that occurred before it was enacted.’
DailyMail.com has reached out to Baldwin’s lawyers for a comment regarding the recent developments.
It comes after it was revealed that Halyna’s husband will testify in court after she was killed by a bullet in the ‘prop’ gun.
Matthew Hutchins was added to the New Mexico District Attorney’s witness list to testify at the preliminary hearing on February 24.
Prosecutors allege Baldwin pulled the trigger of the gun that killed Hutchins while Gutierrez-Reed failed to ensure it was unloaded.
The widower, who shared a nine-year-old son with Halyna, sued the Rust production team last year and was appointed executive director as a part of the settlement.
He previously expressed ‘no interest in engaging in recriminations.’
The extensive witness list includes director Joel Souza, who was wounded by the bullet that passed through Halyna, and assistant director David Halls.
Halls is accused of telling Baldwin the gun was ‘cold’ – safe – an accusation he has denied.
He agreed a plea deal with prosecutors in January which included a six-month suspended sentence and a fine.
Prop worker Seth Kenney, camera assistant Lane Luper, line producer Gabrielle Pickle and script supervisor Maime Mitchell will also likely testify.
Prosecutors note in court documents submitted in January that Baldwin was absent from an initial firearms training session.
Now we the people pull the plug. No more Baldwins at all. Ban all Baldwin family members, other actors who will act on other projects, set Producers also. We the can shame them. we out number them. Read a dam book instead. Learn new skills.
We all knew this was coming. Not surprised one bit that he is going to walk free after killing somebody. Money talks, BS walks!
I always knew he would never be held responsible for her death. How do u sleep at night Alex?
This just doesn’t make sense. Westerns have been around a long time. John Wayne etc. Never heard of anyone getting shot, never mind killed from a “prop” gun. So now I guess there are a couple of questions here. Was it really a “prop gun” Why did Baldwin point it at Hutchins and pull the trigger?
It ultimately, I would think, that the blame would fall on the girl who was in charge of the “weapons” and failed to ensure that it was unloaded. Not sure prop guns would actually take “real” bullets not to mention be safe in the event that they were loaded and fired with them in it. Something stinks here and there is an innocent person dead.