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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Edward Helmore

Alec Baldwin had ‘no control’ over his emotions on Rust set, prosecutors say

Man with hat, mustache and beard looks to his right
Alec Baldwin being processed after the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the Rust film set in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on 21 October 2022. Photograph: Santa Fe county sheriff's office/AFP/Getty Images

New Mexico state prosecutors plan to argue that Alec Baldwin was unable to control his emotions on the set of the film Rust, where cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed when a gun held by the actor went off – and that he “shamelessly lied” and changed his story about the deadly shooting.

The 66-year-old actor is due to go on trial in July on a charge of involuntary manslaughter for his part in Hutchins’ death in Santa Fe. Baldwin has denied wrongdoing. But in a 32-page public filing released on Monday, prosecutor Kari Morrissey alleged that the actor would shout and swear on the set, and his uncontrolled behavior had affected safety.

“To watch Mr Baldwin’s conduct on the set of Rust is to witness a man who has absolutely no control of his own emotions and absolutely no concern for how his conduct affects those around him,” Morrissey wrote. “Witnesses have testified that it was this exact conduct that contributed to safety compromises on set.”

Morrissey also alleged that Baldwin set about deflecting responsibility after Hutchins was killed, including by claiming he had pulled the hammer but not the trigger on the reproduction Colt .45 – a contention that the prosecutor termed “absurd”.

The prosecutor said that the actor had not claimed that when he was first interviewed by police. But he had done so a month later when he went on ABC News to say, in part, that Hutchins had instructed him to point the gun at her.

“Every time Mr Baldwin spoke, a different version of events emerged from his mouth, and his later statements contradicted his previous statements,” the prosecutor said.

In March, film armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for her part in Hutchins’ death. The two-week trial focused on how a live round ended up in the chamber of Baldwin’s prop gun when there were supposed to be only dummy bullets on the Rust set.

Gutierrez-Reed, 27, now faces up to 18 months in prison.

Progress in the case against Baldwin, who was both lead actor and a producer on the film, has been arduous. The initial prosecutor stepped down, and an involuntary manslaughter charge was dismissed pending further investigation before it was reinstated last year. In March, Baldwin’s defense team sought to have the indictment quashed, citing “abuse of the system”.

But in Monday’s filing, Morrissey argued that Baldwin’s defense team had engaged in “countless lies and manipulation” and has subjected her and co-counsel Jason Lewis to personal attacks. They also came to believe that defense claims about a faulty trigger mechanism in the gun were either false or misleading.

Morrissey said she had “naively agreed” to meet with Baldwin’s lawyers. At the meeting, she said, Baldwin’s defense team had given her a PowerPoint presentation in support of their claim that criminal charges were unwarranted.

She also said the defense planned to call prominent actors, including Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren, to testify for their client.

The latest filing additionally revealed that prosecutors offered Baldwin a misdemeanor plea deal last year. But that offer was rescinded when prosecutors learned that Baldwin was planning a documentary about Hutchins – and was “actively pressuring material witnesses in the case” to be interviewed for it.

“It was at this point that the plea offer was rescinded,” Morrissey wrote. A grand jury later returned an involuntary charge – the lowest category of homicide – that potentially carries a similar sentence to that of Gutierrez-Reed’s.

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