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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Gloria Oladipo

Juror in manslaughter trial says Rust armorer made ‘constant safety failures’

a man in a tan shirt holding handcuffs leads a woman dressed in black through a door
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed is taken into custody after the guilty verdict during her trial in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Wednesday. Photograph: Luis Sanchez Saturno/Reuters

A juror in the manslaughter trial for the Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed said the decision to convict her was easy because she did not follow firearm safety procedures, leading to the fatal shooting on the film’s set in 2021.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, 26, was found guilty on Wednesday of involuntary manslaughter in the deadly shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in 2021 when a gun held by the actor Alec Baldwin discharged.

Alberto Sanchez, one of the jurors, told Good Morning America after the verdict that Hutchins’s death was a result of Gutierrez-Reed failing to do her job, which included making sure all firearms on set were safe.

“If she had done what you are supposed to do, that would not have happened. She did not check the weapon, she did not check the rounds,” he said on Thursday.

Reaching the guilty verdict was not “difficult”, Sanchez added. “I’m really big on safety.”

Hutchins and the director, Joel Souza, were shot during a rehearsal for the western film. Baldwin, a co-producer for the film, was pointing a prop gun at Hutchins when it discharged, killing her and injuring Souza.

After two and a half hours of deliberation, a New Mexico jury ruled that Gutierrez-Reed was guilty for her role in the shooting and failed to follow basic safety procedures. Prosecutors said she was reckless and negligent in her role as the film’s armorer.

“This is not a case where Hannah Gutierrez made one mistake,” special prosecutor Kari Morrissey said in the trial’s closing arguments. “This case is about constant, never-ending safety failures that resulted in the death of a human being and nearly killed another.”

Gutierrez-Reed’s defense team argued that she is being used as a scapegoat when real responsibility should fall on the film’s producers, including Baldwin.

Her attorney said she would appeal the decision. Gutierrez-Reed is in custody and faces up to 18 months in prison as well as a $5,000 fine.

She was also been charged with tampering with evidence, but the jury found her not guilty.

Baldwin was also charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection to the shooting. He has pleaded not guilty and his trial will begin in July.

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