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Alec Baldwin's manslaughter trial set for July

Published February 27,2024

The manslaughter trial of Alec Baldwin over a fatal shooting on the set of his movie "Rust" will begin in July, a New Mexico judge has ruled.

Baldwin, a producer and star of the Western film, was charged in January for his role in the 2021 death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

He was holding a Colt .45 when it discharged, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

Court documents published Monday show jury selection has been set for July 9, with opening arguments expected the following day.

The trial, in Santa Fe, is slated to last until July 19.

Baldwin, 65, has repeatedly denied responsibility, insisting he did not pull the trigger on the gun, which should not have been loaded with a live round.

The movie's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez, is currently on trial in New Mexico facing one count of involuntary manslaughter.

As armorer, the 26-year-old -- who is also known as Hannah Gutierrez-Reed -- was responsible for weapons on the set.

She also faces one charge of tampering with evidence in relation to the alleged disposal of cocaine in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

Baldwin faces two alternative counts of involuntary manslaughter -- one involving "negligent use of a firearm" and one of acting "without due caution or circumspection."

It will be up to the jury to decide whether to convict him on one or the other or neither, but not both.

He has pleaded not guilty.

If convicted, he faces a maximum of 18 months behind bars.

Baldwin's lawyers Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro have asked for a speedy trial in order to "minimize public vilification and suspicion and to avoid the hazards of proving his innocence that often arise after a lengthy delay in prosecution."

Dave Halls, the film's safety coordinator and assistant director who handed Baldwin the loaded gun, agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors last year and was sentenced to six months' probation.

Filming of "Rust" was halted by the tragedy, but resumed last year.

The cinematographer's widower, Matthew Hutchins, who has already settled a wrongful death suit with "Rust" producers, served as an executive producer.

Director Souza, who was injured in the shooting, returned to the project, saying at the time that completing the movie would be "bittersweet" but that the cast and crew "are committed to completing what Halyna and I started."

Baldwin remains free on bail.

Hutchins was 42 years old at the time of the shooting.

Her death sent shockwaves through Hollywood and led to calls for a tightening of the rules around the use of firearms on movie sets.

But it also led to accusations of sloppy management, with some in the industry saying regulations were already tight, and that they had simply not been properly followed during the making of "Rust."