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Jury Selection Starts For Alec Baldwin’s Trial In Fatal ‘Rust’ Shooting

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Jury selection for Alec Baldwin‘s manslaughter trial is set to begin Tuesday, following the 2021 fatal shooting of a crew member on the set of “Rust” in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The incident occurred when Baldwin was practicing a cross-draw in a church scene on the Western film set. The Colt .45 revolver discharged a live round, fatally injuring 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Baldwin, 66, who also served as a producer on the film, was indicted by a grand jury on involuntary manslaughter charges earlier this year after prosecutors had previously dropped the charge. He has pleaded not guilty.

Jury selection is anticipated to last one day, with the trial expected to continue through July 19.

Baldwin has claimed that he did not pull the trigger, though an FBI forensic report concluded that the gun could not have fired without the trigger being pulled.

Prosecutors intended to argue that Baldwin, as a producer, was responsible for unsafe conditions on the set. However, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer ruled against this argument during an evidence hearing on Monday.

Defense attorney Luke Nikas argued that attributing liability to Baldwin for the shooting death due to his role as a producer was “far more prejudicial than it is probative” and should not be included.

Prosecutor Erlinda Ocampo Johnson countered that it was pertinent to show the jury that Baldwin was aware of his safety obligations as a producer and had the authority to enforce safety on set.

Judge Marlowe Sommer determined that the probative value of this evidence was “not substantially outweighed by unfair prejudice and certainly confusion of issues to the jury.”

Other rulings included the admissibility of footage showing Baldwin handling the firearm on set, but videos of him yelling or cussing at the crew were deemed irrelevant.

Baldwin’s defense team filed multiple motions to dismiss his indictment, all of which were denied in the lead-up to the trial.

Judge Marlowe Sommer also denied a request from the state to grant immunity to the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez, to compel her testimony during Baldwin’s trial.

Gutierrez, 27, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to 18 months in prison, the maximum sentence. She has appealed her conviction.

Prosecutors sought immunity so that her testimony could not be used against her in her appeal. In a pretrial interview in May, Gutierrez invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Judge Marlowe Sommer noted that Gutierrez indicated she would not testify and that nothing she might say couldn’t be provided by other witnesses.

Gutierrez could still be called to testify but without immunity.

The judge also permitted the testimony of a “Rust” crew member who allegedly witnessed the shooting and saw Baldwin pull the trigger.

Other potential witnesses include David Halls, the film’s safety coordinator sentenced to six months of unsupervised probation in connection with the shooting, and “Rust” director Joel Souza, who was also injured by the live bullet. Both testified during Gutierrez’s trial.

During Gutierrez’s trial, footage of Baldwin on the “Rust” set was shown, including a take where he fired a gun after “cut” was called. Prosecutor Kari Morrissey emphasized Baldwin’s responsibility for gun safety in the church during her closing argument, stating, “Alec Baldwin’s conduct and his lack of gun safety inside that church on that day is something that he’s going to have to answer for. Not with you and not today.”

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