Alec Baldwin charged with manslaughter for second time after Rust film set shooting

Actor Alec Baldwin leaves court in New York City, USA, in 2019.
Actor Alec Baldwin leaves court in New York City, USA, in 2019. Photo credit: Reuters / Carlo Allegri.

By Andrew Hay and Steve Gorman for Reuters

Alec Baldwin on Saturday was charged again with involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film "Rust," reinstating a criminal case against the actor months after previous charges were dropped.

Saturday's indictment by a New Mexico grand jury followed an independent forensic test, opens new tab concluding that Baldwin, 65, would have had to pull the trigger of a revolver he was using in a rehearsal for it to fire the live round that killed Hutchins.

The finding was the same as a previous FBI test on the firearm.

Baldwin's lawyers, Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro, issued a statement on Saturday on behalf of their client saying, "We look forward to our day in court."

Baldwin, the Emmy-winning performer who starred in the hit NBC television comedy "30 Rock," has denied pulling the trigger and said he was not responsible for Hutchins' death in the Oct. 21, 2021, shooting on the New Mexico movie set near Santa Fe, the state capital.

The movie's director, Joel Souza, was hit and wounded by the same bullet that killed Hutchins.

According to a police report, David Halls, the assistant director who handed the gun to Baldwin, told the actor the weapon was "cold," an industry term meaning it did not contain live ammunition or even blank rounds.

Special prosecutor Kari Morrissey previously said she would file new charges against Baldwin if the independent test showed the reproduction long Colt .45 revolver was in "working condition."

Prosecutors previously dismissed charges against Baldwin based on evidence the hammer of the revolver might been modified, allowing it to fire without the trigger being pulled.

The single-page indictment filed with the First Judicial District Court in Santa Fe charges Baldwin with involuntary manslaughter under two alternative legal definitions - causing a death by "negligent use of a firearm" and by acting "without due caution or circumspection."

Should the case go to court, it would be up to a jury to decide whether Baldwin could be found guilty by either one definition or the other. Involuntary manslaughter is classified in New Mexico as a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in prison.

Baldwin was similarly charged with involuntary manslaughter in January via a criminal complaint filed by prosecutors. Those charges were dismissed in April.

A grand jury indictment allows prosecutors to avoid the additional legal step of convincing a judge during an evidentiary hearing that there is probable cause to proceed to trial.

The movie's chief armorer, Hannah Gutierrez, who handled the gun before Halls, was also charged with involuntary manslaughter. She faces a 2024 trial. Halls signed a plea agreement for the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon.

"Our clients have always sought the truth about what happened on the day that Halyna Hutchins was tragically shot and killed," attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing Hutchins' parents, Olga Solovey and Anatolii Androsovych, said in a statement on Saturday.

"They continue to seek the truth in our civil lawsuit for them, and they also would like there to be accountability in the criminal justice system," Allred added.