On Thursday, March 9, a virtual hearing was held for actor Alec Baldwin and “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. The two have been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter for the October 2021 fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
Although the “30 Rock” actor was absent from the virtual courtroom, his attorneys and Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies were present as Judge Mary Marlow Sommer set the schedule for the rest of the court dates.
Alec Baldwin Absent For Virtual Hearing As Fate Of ‘Rust’ Gun Remains Unknown
Only a few hours before Thursday’s court date, Alec Baldwin requested and was granted a waiver from appearing, as first reported by Deadline. In a filing issued on Thursday in Santa Fe County, Baldwin said, “I understand that I am charged with the following offense or offenses under the law of the State of New Mexico: Involuntary Manslaughter (Section 30-2-3(B), NMSA 1978) in two alternatives.”
“I understand that I am entitled to personally appear before the Court at every stage of the criminal proceedings,” he added. “After reading and understanding the above, I request that the Court permit me to waive a personal appearance in court for the following proceedings: All Status Conferences.”
Baldwin had formally entered a plea of not guilty on February 23 and waived his right to appear at the first hearing that was held the next day. “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed has not waived her right to appear in court and was present along with her attorney, Jason Bowles, on February 24.
On Thursday, however, the fate of another key piece of evidence was brought to light when Baldwin’s attorneys claimed that the gun that he was holding on set had been “destroyed.”
Baldwin’s Legal Team Claims That The Gun Used On Set Was ‘Destroyed’
Attorney Alex Spiro told Judge Mary Marlow Sommer that the 1880s prop gun that Alec Baldwin was holding on the “Rust” set had been “destroyed,” as per Deadline.
“The court, I don’t think is aware of this point, but I think I should tell the court that the firearm in this case, that’s a great subject of it, was destroyed by the state,” Spiro claimed. “So, that’s obviously an issue and we’re going to need to see that firearm, or what’s left of it.”
At the time, the issue wasn’t immediately addressed as the discussion turned back to court dates. However, New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney spokesperson Heather Brewer did release a statement later Thursday night to state that the gun was, in fact, not destroyed.
“The gun Alec Baldwin used in the shooting that killed Halyna Hutchins has not been destroyed by the state,” Brewer told Deadline on Thursday. “The gun is in evidence and is available for the defense to review.”
“The defense’s unexpected statement in the status hearing today that the gun had been destroyed by the state may be a reference to a statement in the FBI’s July 2022 firearms testing report that said damage was done to internal components of the gun during the FBI’s functionality testing,” Brewer added. “However, the gun still exists and can be used as evidence.”
What Is The Timeline For The ‘Rust’ Trial?
Later this month, on March 27, the parties will gather for another hearing on Baldwin’s motion to disqualify special prosecutor Andrea Reed. Both Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed have filed a motion to disqualify Reed due to her role as a newly elected GOP New Mexico legislator. The Santa Fe District Attorney has argued that there is no conflict of interest involving Reed.
Baldwin’s NYC-based legal team also argued on a set deadline for the witness list, which has been amended at least five times now. “So we can make sure Mr. Baldwin has a fair opportunity to prepare for this, that the state identify the actual subset of witnesses that they intend to call,” Spiro said during the hearing.
“That will also allow us to notify and subpoena the necessary witnesses that we need, that they’re not calling or that we need to answer some of these allegations,” he added. The judge agreed and said the witness list needs to be finalized by April 17.
The preliminary examination for the “Rust” trial will begin in early May to see if there is enough evidence to move forward to an actual trial.