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Alec Baldwin’s ‘Rust’ Trial Begins: Key Details and Developments

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The involuntary manslaughter trial of actor Alec Baldwin commenced this week in Santa Fe, New Mexico, following the 2021 fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film “Rust”. The new trial, which began with jury selection on July 9, is expected to last approximately two weeks.

In a pre-trial ruling, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer decided that Baldwin’s role as a co-producer on “Rust” could not be introduced as evidence. This decision limits the prosecution’s ability to argue that the actor’s dual role on set contributed to safety lapses. The ruling aims to keep the focus on Baldwin’s actions as an actor during the incident.

Alec Baldwin, 66, faces up to 18 months in prison if convicted. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges, maintaining that the gun discharged accidentally during a rehearsal and that he did not pull the trigger.

The incident occurred on October 21, 2021, at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe. A prop gun held by Baldwin discharged a live round, killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.

The jury selection process is ongoing, with both prosecution and defense expressing different views on how quickly a jury can be empaneled. To that, Judge Sommer has expressed confidence in completing the process swiftly, despite the high-profile nature of the case.

Other key rulings include the admission of certain evidence. The judge has allowed the prosecution to present graphic autopsy images and police body cam footage. However, findings from a state workplace safety investigation have been excluded from the trial.

The “Rust” production was eventually completed in Montana in early 2023, with Baldwin returning as both star and producer. However, the film has yet to secure distribution. Additionally, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the film’s armorer, was previously convicted of involuntary manslaughter in a separate trial and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

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