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'Rust' trial for armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed reaches verdict: Everything you need to know

A verdict has been reached in the trial of "Rust" armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who faced charges of involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering following the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Following closing arguments Wednesday, a jury found Gutierrez-Reed guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the 2021 death of Hutchins, a 42-year-old cinematographer who was hit by a bullet discharged by star Alec Baldwin's gun during rehearsals for the Western film.

Gutierrez-Reed also faced a second charge of tampering with evidence, stemming from accusations that she handed a small bag of possible narcotics to another crew member after the shooting to avoid detection. She was found not guilty on that count.

The involuntary manslaughter charge against Gutierrez-Reed carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. She will be sentenced at a later date.


Some participants in the "Rust" tragedy have struck plea bargains, and a past charge against actor and producer Alec Baldwin was suddenly dropped. Baldwin was re-charged by prosecutors in January; his trial is expected to take place this summer.

Prosecutors argued Gutierrez-Reed, who pleaded not guilty to both charges, was to blame for live ammunition ending up in a prop gun that discharged during rehearsal on Oct. 21, 2021, killing Hutchins. Defense attorneys argued that Baldwin oversaw a sloppy set that led to the accidental death.

Here's everything you need to know.

'Rust' armorer accused of 'lack of diligence' in closing arguments

Attorneys delivered closing arguments March 6 after the jury heard dozens of witness testimonies over the course of the 10-day trial, which began Feb. 23 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Delivering her closing arguments, prosecutor Kari Morrissey described "constant, never-ending safety failures" on the set of "Rust" and Gutierrez-Reed's "astonishing lack of diligence" with gun safety.

Defense attorneys contended that problems on the movie set extended far beyond Gutierrez-Reed's control, including the mishandling of weapons by Baldwin, the lead actor and co-producer who crew members were reluctant to confront.

Director says 'safety is everyone's responsibility'

Director P.J. Pesce, called by the defense, discussed safety protocols on set. He did not work on "Rust," but has worked on "Quantico," "Blue Bloods," "The Marshal" and more that have had firearms on set.

During questioning from Gutierrez-Reed's defense attorney Jason Bowles, Pesce said the director customarily is the only one to call "cut" unless safety is involved.

"In the published literature of the various guilds, they indicate safety is everyone's responsibility," he said. "If there's a safety issue, there are anonymous hotlines for anybody to call and raise these issues."

Pesce said calling out concerns with talent "can put your career in jeopardy and nobody wants to do that" so various guilds implemented anonymous hotlines so that "a representative can provide that information to someone who can take action."

Workplace safety regulator says management failed in fatal 'Rust' shooting

Lorenzo Montoya, of the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau, was among the defense's first witnesses. Montoya conducted a six-month investigation of the shooting and whether managers affiliated with Rust Movie Productions complied with state workplace safety regulations.

His inspection produced a scathing narrative of safety failures in violation of standard industry protocols, including observations that weapons specialists were not allowed to make decisions about additional safety training and didn't respond to Gutierrez-Reed's complaints. The report also found that managers took limited or no action to address two misfires on set before the fatal shooting and requests to provide more training.

Montoya said Gutierrez-Reed's requests for more time and resources as an armorer went unheeded.

"Rust Movie Productions identified a hazard," Montoya said. "They adopted firearms safety policies, but they totally failed to enforce them, train their employees on them, practice them, reference them."

In a counterpoint to those findings, prosecutors previously introduced testimony from on-set producer Gabrielle Pickle that she responded to gun-safety concerns on the set of "Rust" by providing more days — 10 days, increased from five — for Gutierrez-Reed to devote to her armorer duties, instead of other responsibilities in the props department.

Former homicide detective Scott Elliott, a defense expert witness, highlighted shortcomings in the police investigation, noting that Gutierrez-Reed was confined to a police car in the immediate aftermath of the shooting while other witnesses including Baldwin commingled and made phone calls.

Alec Baldwin's 'Rust' trial: Actor will be tried for involuntary manslaughter in July

Ammunition supplier testifies he didn't provide live rounds to 'Rust' production

Albuquerque-based movie firearms and ammunition supplier Seth Kenney told the jury he cleaned and repackaged ammunition to "Rust" that was previously supplied to a production in Texas. He testified he handed off a box of 50 inert dummy rounds containing no gunpower to the film's props supervisor on Oct. 12, 2021.

Kenney said he provided "Rust" props master Sarah Zachry, who also managed weapons and ammunition for the production, with dummy ammunition retrieved from a props storage truck on the Texas set of the television series "1883." He denied supplying live ammunition to Zachry when questioned by Morrissey.

Kenney also said he scrubbed the exterior of the rounds and cleaned out residue inside in each of them to ensure the telltale rattle of a metal pellet inside dummy rounds could be heard for safety purposes.

He said he didn't have any ammunition that looked like the live rounds investigators found on the set of "Rust." However, he acknowledged he stored live rounds that were used in a live-ammunition shooting exercise for actors on "1883," arranged at a private ranch of series creator Taylor Sheridan.

The live rounds from that shooting exercise were brought back to his shop and stored in a bathroom within a gray plastic container marked "live rounds" on the outside, Kenney said. The live rounds were initially provided to "1883" by Gutierrez-Reed's stepfather, the Hollywood sharp shooter and weapons consultant Thell Reed.

'Rust' director Joel Souza describes the moment he was shot: Like being hit by 'a baseball bat'

Candles are placed in front of a photo of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a vigil held in her honor at Albuquerque Civic Plaza on Oct. 23, 2021, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Candles are placed in front of a photo of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a vigil held in her honor at Albuquerque Civic Plaza on Oct. 23, 2021, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Joel Souza, the film's director who was struck by the same bullet that killed Hutchins, testified on March 1 that the impact "felt like someone had taken a baseball bat to my shoulder."

He said the day began with Hutchins hurriedly lining up replacements with the six camera-crew members who had walked off the set. As they prepped for a close-up of Baldwin drawing a gun from a holster, "there was an incredibly loud bang," said Souza, who described it as "deafening."

Souza recalled seeing Gutierrez-Reed inside the church, looking "distraught" after the gun went off. "And I remember somebody just screaming at her, and they just ushered her out."

A day earlier, prosecutors showed footage of Baldwin urging Gutierrez-Reed to speed up as she reloads guns between scenes.

"One more, let's reload right away," Baldwin says in the video. "Here we go, come on. We should have had two guns and both were reloading."

'Rust' movie shooting trials begin: What happens next for Alec Baldwin and his armorer?

'Rust' assistant director David Halls says armorer handed Alec Baldwin gun before fatal shooting

Assistant director David Halls, the safety coordinator on set, told jurors on Feb. 29 that Gutierrez-Reed twice handed the revolver to Baldwin. It was first emptied of bullets, Halls testified, and then loaded again with several dummy rounds and a live round. Gutierrez-Reed told investigators after the shooting that she left the loaded gun in the hands of Halls.

“I did not see Ms. Gutierrez take the gun from Mr. Baldwin,” Halls said when questioned by the prosecution, “but she appeared back on my left-hand side and she said that she had put dummy rounds into the revolver.”

Gun expert says it's unlikely the firearm went off without a trigger pull

Courtroom testimony by an independent expert in Old West firearms on Feb. 27 cast new doubt on Baldwin's account that his gun went off without pulling the trigger.

Firearms expert Lucien Haag provided a lengthy demonstration of the workings of a single-action Colt revolver, like the gun held by Baldwin, and safety features that prevent a fully cocked hammer from striking and firing ammunition unless the trigger is depressed.

Witness describes gun misfires, 'ludicrous' work pace on 'Rust' set

During testimony on Feb. 26, an eyewitness described gun misfires and a "ludicrous" pace of work.

Ross Addiego, a "Rust" crew member who helped guide the camera, described the moments after a shot rang out.

Hutchins "was starting to go flush and I think holding her right side," said Addiego, breaking into tears. "I think I yelled out, 'If you can't help, get ... out of here, and someone call 911.' "

Addiego noted two misfires of blank rounds on the set and one safety meeting over about two work weeks, when daily meetings are the norm.

Prior to the fatal shooting, Addiego had lodged safety complaints with Halls and with union representatives. "We always seemed to be rushed and under the gun," he said.

Prosecutors accuse Hannah Gutierrez-Reed of 'sloppy' conduct, defense blames production

In this image from video, movie set armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, right, speaks with a sheriff’s deputy as a colleague stands next to her on the set of the Western movie “Rust,” shortly after the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins by Alec Baldwin.
In this image from video, movie set armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, right, speaks with a sheriff’s deputy as a colleague stands next to her on the set of the Western movie “Rust,” shortly after the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins by Alec Baldwin.

In an opening statement on Feb. 22, prosecutor Jason Lewis accused Gutierrez-Reed of engaging in "unprofessional and sloppy" conduct on the "Rust" set, alleging that the "decisions she made that day ultimately contributed to Ms. Hutchins' death." Before handing the gun to Baldwin, she "needed to do a much more complete check" than she did to ensure it did not contain live rounds, he argued.

Lewis also told jurors that evidence suggests live rounds "came onto the set via the defendant," and he showed a photograph in which a live round appeared to be sitting in her lap, but she apparently "failed to identify" it.

Defense attorney Bowles, meanwhile, blamed on the film's production for the "chaotic" set. In an opening statement, he argued that producers, including Baldwin, did not follow basic safety rules, while Gutierrez-Reed did the "best job she could under very, very tough circumstances." He also argued that the film production is seeking to "blame it all on Hannah" because she's an "easy target."

Director of Photography Halyna Hutchins who was killed on set while filming the movie "Rust" in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Oct. 21, 2021.
Director of Photography Halyna Hutchins who was killed on set while filming the movie "Rust" in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Oct. 21, 2021.

What is 'Rust' armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed charged with?

Gutierrez-Reed is being charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Hutchins, as well as tampering with evidence.

The involuntary manslaughter charges are related to her being responsible for gun safety on the set, which includes making sure live ammunition does not make its way into real firearms. The latter charge is connected to text messages that prosecutors say show Gutierrez-Reed was using alcohol and cocaine, including on the night before the shooting.

Alec Baldwin: 'Rust' actor pleads not guilty to involuntary manslaughter in film's shooting case

Contributing: Marco della Cava and Kim Willis, USA TODAY; Morgan Lee, The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Rust' trial: Movie armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed found guilty