‘Rust’ shooting: Alec Baldwin’s trial begins with jury selection

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Alec Baldwins The trial in the death of a cameraman begins Tuesday with the selection of jurors who will decide whether the actor is guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Being chosen to serve in a trial of such a big star Being accused of such a major crime would be unusual even in Los Angeles or Baldwin’s native New York. But it will be an essentially unprecedented experience for those selected as jurors in Santa Fe, New Mexico, although the state has increasingly adopted a center of Hollywood production.

Actor Alec Baldwin is facing involuntary manslaughter charges in New Mexico for the death of cameraman Halyna Hutchins on the set of “Rust” in 2021. Here’s what you need to know:

Read the latest news and watch live reports of the trial, here.

Baldwin and his wife Hilaria arrived at court Tuesday with at least one of their youngest children. The couple has seven children, the youngest of whom turns 2 in September.

Baldwin, 66, could face up to 18 months in prison if jurors vote unanimously to convict him. Jurors must decide whether Baldwin committed the crime when a revolver discharged while he was pointing it at camerawoman Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal in October 2021, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza. They were on the set of the western film “Rust” at Bonanza Creek Ranch, about 18 miles (29 kilometers) from where the trial is being held.

Baldwin has said the gun went off accidentally after he followed instructions to point it at him. Hutchins, who was behind the cameraBaldwin said that without knowing there was a live bullet in the gun, he pulled the hammer (not the trigger) and the gun went off.

The star of “30 Rock” and “The Hunt for Red October” made his first court appearance Monday when Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer, in a major victory for the defense, ruled during a preliminary hearing that Baldwin’s role as co-producer about “Rest” is not relevant to the process.

The judge said the special circumstances of a celebrity trial should not prevent jury selection from proceeding quickly and that opening statements should begin on Wednesday.

“I’m not worried about picking a jury in one day,” Marlowe Sommer said. “I think we can pick a jury by noon.”

Special Prosecutor Kari Morrisseyhowever, doubted whether Baldwin’s lawyers, with whom she had clashed in the run-up to the trial, would make that possible.

“I suspect that’s not going to happen with this group of defense attorneys,” Morrissey said during the hearing.

Attorney Baldwin Alex Spiro replied, “I’ve never not chosen a jury in one day. I can’t imagine this would be the first time.”

Image

Actor Alec Baldwin walks into his courtroom in U.S. District Court in Santa Fe, N.M., for a preliminary hearing in the “Rust” trial on Monday, July 8, 2024. (Luis Sánchez Saturno/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP)

Dozens of potential jurors were brought into the courtroom Tuesday morning for questioning. Notable attendees Tuesday included “The Usual Suspects” actor Stephen Baldwin. Cameras covering the remainder of the proceedings will be turned off to protect the jurors’ privacy. The jury is expected to hear the case after a nine-day trial.

Defense attorneys can request that they be dismissed for conflicts or other reasons. The defense can dismiss up to five jurors without giving a reason, and the prosecution can dismiss three, according to state law. More challenges are allowed if four alternates are chosen.

Before Marlowe Sommer’s sentencing on Monday, prosecutors had hoped to highlight Baldwin’s safety duties on set as a co-producer to support an alternative theory of culpability beyond his alleged negligent use of a firearm. They sought to link Baldwin’s conduct to “total disregard or indifference for the safety of others” under involuntary manslaughter law.

But prosecutors won other victories Monday, successfully arguing to exclude summary findings from a state investigation into workplace safety that placed much of the blame on the film’s assistant director, shifting the blame away from Baldwin.

The judge ruled that they could show graphic footage from Hutchins’ autopsy and from police body cameras during treatment for her injuries.

___

Dalton reported from Los Angeles.

___ For more coverage of the involuntary manslaughter trial of Alec Baldwin, visit: https://apnews.com/hub/alec-baldwin

Leave a Comment