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Gabriella Ferrigine

Rust armorer sentenced: How we got here

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the "Rust" film armorer who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the deadly on-set shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Monday. 

The sentence was the maximum Gutierrez-Reed could have received for loading a live round of ammunition into a prop revolver that went off while held by actor Alec Baldwin in 2021. Aside from fatally wounding Hutchins, the live round also injured "Rust" director Joel Souza.

Gutierrez-Reed, who originally pleaded not guilty, was convicted following a two-week trial in Santa Fe, New Mexico in March. She was remanded to custody at the Santa Fe County Adult Detention Facility while awaiting the results of her appeal, which Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer denied. Prosecutors at the time argued that Gutierrez-Reed "was negligent, she was careless, she was thoughtless," adding that she seemed more “worried about her career” than about those directly impacted by the tragic shooting. 

According to a report from the New York Times, Judge Sommer's sentencing followed the release of summaries of phone calls Gutierrez-Reed made from the detention facility, post-conviction. The armorer in the calls referred to jurors in her criminal case as “idiots,” and said that Sommer was on a "power trip." She also gratuitously claimed that the judge was "getting paid off." In another call, Gutierrez-Reed stated that she was attempting to get her attorney's paralegal to connect with Hutchins' family to speak on her behalf at the sentencing. Additionally, she claimed that she wanted prosecutors to “put Alec Baldwin in jail.”

“Your honor, when I took on ‘Rust,’ I was young and I was naïve, but I took my job as seriously as I knew how to,” Gutierrez-Reed, now 26, said while reading a statement before the court on Monday. “Despite not having proper time, resources and staffing when things got tough I just did my best to handle it.

“The jury has found me in part at fault for this God-awful tragedy but that doesn’t make me a monster, that makes me human," she also said. 

Sommer, however, argued that Gutierrez-Reed had demonstrated little remorse for her actions. “You alone turned a safe weapon into a lethal weapon,” the judge said, per Variety. “But for you, Ms. Hutchins would be alive, a husband would have his partner, and a little boy would have his mother.”

“I did not hear you take accountability,” Sommer said, as noted by IndieWire. The outlet also reported that the armorer had conceded to sometimes neglecting to shake dummy rounds to confirm that they were not live. “Every time a gun was loaded with ‘dummy’ rounds, it was a game of Russian roulette,” lead prosecutor  Kari T. Morrissey wrote in a court filing prior to sentencing, per the NYT report. 

“It was my sincere hope during this process that there would be some moment when Ms. Gutierrez took responsibility, expressed some level of remorse that was genuine, and that moment has never come,” the attorney said during Monday's hearing. 

Gutierrez-Reed's legal team refuted the phone calls, painting them as evidence of her “frustration at the system,” and argued that they did not take away from the armorer's “heartbreak and extreme sadness over what occurred on the ‘Rust’ set.”

Ahead of the sentencing, Sommer heard statements from Hutchins' friends and family and Souza, per Rolling Stone. Hutchins' mother, in a pre-recorded video from where she lives in Ukraine, said, “The day of her death ruined my entire life. It’s heart-wrenching to see her child grow without his mother.”

“What I want is simply not possible," Souza said in his statement. "I want that none of this ever happened, that everyone is OK, that lives weren’t destroyed. One moment, the world made sense. The next moment, it didn’t, and it still doesn’t, and I don’t know if it ever will again."

Baldwin has separately pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter, and has a trial set to be underway in July; however, as the NYT noted, a judge is currently considering a defense motion to dismiss the actor's indictment. 

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