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‘Rust’ Armorer’s Lawyer Opens Trial by Laying Blame on Alec Baldwin

John Lamparski/GC Images
John Lamparski/GC Images

The trial for Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who faces charges of involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence if convicted, began on Thursday with the prosecution arguing that the defendant was “unprofessional and sloppy.” Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyer, meanwhile, used his opening statement to blame Alec Baldwin as both a producer of the film and the actor who allegedly pulled the trigger.

Prosecutor Jason Lewis contested that Gutierrez-Reed, who managed weaponry on the set of the Western film, “acted negligently and without caution” on the day that Baldwin discharged a gun that fatally struck 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza.

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“You’re going to hear that on the day of the shooting, Ms. Gutierrez loaded the gun in the morning with five rounds,” Lewis said. “Ms. Gutierrez then took the firearm to the church and handed the gun over to the first assistant director, whose name is Dave Halls. Ms. Gutierrez and Mr. Halls then did a sloppy and incomplete safety check of the gun where the dummy rounds were not removed from the gun, and rattled or checked to see if they had a hole drilled in it.”

“Instead, she just kind of cracked open the gun and partially spun the cylinder to show Mr. Halls a few of the rounds,” Lewis said. “But they were not removed from the gun and they weren’t all checked.”

As part of his own opening statement, Jason Bowles, one of Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyers, countered that the armorer was being used as a “scapegoat” for Hutchins’ death; adding, “just because there was a tragedy doesn’t mean a crime was committed.”

Last April, involuntary manslaughter charges against Baldwin were dropped, but then he was indicted for a second time this past month. Gutierrez-Reed faces a maximum of 18 months in prison if her involuntary manslaughter charges stick.

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“You’re going to hear that Mr. Baldwin, one of the lead producers, head actor in the movie—he really controlled the set—you’re going to hear that he violated some of the most basic gun safety rules you can ever learn,” Bowles said to the courtroom on Thursday.

“From a young age we all learn you don’t point a gun at somebody ever, unless you want to shoot them,” Bowles continued. “You treat all guns as loaded and you keep your finger off of the trigger until you’re ready to shoot. He violated all of those. It wasn’t Ms. Gutierrez-Reed, it was Mr. Baldwin.”

The trial, which is taking place in New Mexico, is expected to continue through the beginning of March.

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