‘Rust’ Shooting Trial: Alec Baldwin Cast as Reckless Rule Breaker

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Prosecutors wanted to bring the case Alec Baldwin as someone who disregards the rules and has little regard for safety in the workplace. first day of his trial in New Mexico when filming a cameraman.

Special Prosecutor Erlinda Ocampo Johnson repeatedly referred to Baldwin playing “fantasy” with a revolver on the set of the film “Rust,” saying it led to very real danger and resulted in the deaths of Halyna Hutchinswho she described as “a vibrant 42-year-old rising star.”

Ocampo Johnson told jurors in her opening statement Wednesday that Baldwin “requested to be assigned the largest weapon available” and that during a training session for that, “he had people film him running around and firing this weapon.”

According to the prosecutor, the behind-the-scenes footage will show Baldwin carelessly ignoring basic firearm safety.

“You’re going to see him use this gun as a pointer to point at people, to point at things,” Ocampo Johnson said. “You’re going to see him cock the hammer when he shouldn’t be cocking the hammer, you’re going to see him put his finger on the trigger when his finger shouldn’t be on the trigger.”

The Death of Hutchins and the wounding of director Joel Souza nearly three years ago sent shockwaves through the film industry. The fatal shooting led to Baldwin being charged with involuntary manslaughter, the 66 year old star of “30 Rock” and frequent host of “Saturday Night Live,” which could result in up to 18 months in prison.

His wife Hilaria Baldwin, younger brother Stephen Baldwin and older sister Elizabeth Keuchler were back in the stands behind him on Thursday as the trial got off to a rocky start on its second day.

Baldwin’s attorney, Alex Spiro, questioned forensic technician Marissa Poppell in detail about how she collected and handled the weapon, and about the live ammunition that somehow found its way onto the set. He was, however, frequently interrupted by objections from the prosecution and subsequent court appearances.

It was expected that the day’s testimony would focus primarily on evidence gathering and the revolver Baldwin used.

Seated in two rows of eight each, jurors and alternate jurors scribbled notes as they listened to testimony. Jurors had their own close-up view of visual exhibits, with six monitors installed in the jury box.

When Poppell was questioned by the Public Prosecution Service the day before, they saw with their own eyes the revolver and the fired bullet that killed Hutchins.

Spiro emphasized in his opening statement that Baldwin did what actors always do on the set of “Rust.”

“He has to be able to pick up that weapon and use it the way the person he’s playing would,” Spiro told the jury.

That includes pulling the trigger. Baldwin has said the gun went off accidentally, but Spiro said it still wouldn’t be manslaughter even if he fired it intentionally.

“On a film set, you get to pull the trigger,” Spiro said.

Spiro called the shooting an “unspeakable tragedy” and that an “amazing person” died, but said responsibility lies with the film’s gunmaker, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who already convicted of involuntary manslaughterand from assistant director David Halls, who told Baldwin that the gun was “cold.”

“It was checked and double-checked by those responsible for the safety of the weapon,” Spiro said. “He did not tamper with it, he did not load it himself. He did not leave it unattended.”

The first witness to take the stand was Nicholas LeFleur, the first police officer to arrive at the Bonanza Creek Ranch set after the shooting. His body camera footage gave the jury a glimpse into the chaotic scene: a grim look at a seemingly unconscious Hutchins as LeFleur and others tried to revive her.

Later in the video, LeFleur is seen telling Baldwin not to talk to the other potential witnesses, but Baldwin repeatedly does so.

“Did Mr. Baldwin have to talk about the incident?” special prosecutor Kari Morrissey asked him.

“No, ma’am,” LeFleur replied.

“Does it look like he’s doing it anyway?” Morrissey asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” said LeFleur.


Dalton reported from Los Angeles.

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

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