Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Meg James

‘Rust’ shooting prosecution against Alec Baldwin faces another setback

New Mexico’s criminal case against Alec Baldwin in the fatal “Rust” shooting faced another setback as a judge signaled that she will reject a request by the Santa Fe prosecutor to add another high-powered attorney to the case.

New Mexico 1st Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said during a Monday hearing she is struggling to shore up an office plagued by attorney defections and vacancies. She asked a judge for authorization to hire a new special prosecutor to help land criminal convictions for Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the armorer on the ill-fated western movie.

“We are in dire straits,” Carmack-Altwies told Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer during the virtual court hearing. “We do not have sufficient manpower to fully prosecute this (case) by ourselves.”

But Sommer made it clear that she planned to deny Carmack-Altwies’ request for help, instead siding with a lawyer for Gutierrez Reed, who had objected to the appointment of a outside counsel to work in collaboration with Carmack-Altwies and others in her office.

In late January, the Santa Fe prosecutor charged Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed with involuntary manslaughter in the October 2021 shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of “Rust,” near Santa Fe. Both Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed have pleaded not guilty.

The previous special prosecutor, Andrea Reeb, resigned this month amid controversy over her dual role as prosecutor and a member of the New Mexico Legislature. Baldwin’s attorneys had argued the Republican lawmaker‘s involvement in the case was politically motivated. Baldwin, who famously lampooned former President Donald Trump on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” is reviled in some conservative circles.

Reeb’s resignation was a win for Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed. It left an enormous gap in the prosecution team just weeks before a pivotal May hearing. Reeb had participated in the case for months and had conducted key interviews to strengthen the case for trial.

With Reeb’s departure, Carmack-Altwies was left scrambling to fill the void. She told the judge her office is dealing with a statewide crisis. “There are not enough prosecutors in the state, and we have to be able to look outside of our offices in order to find people,” she said.

Carmack-Altwies said she had identified a new lawyer to join her in prosecuting the case, but needed the judge’s permission. Typically, special prosecutors are introduced when the lead prosecutor has an ethical conflict of interest. But that’s not at issue here.

“We need extra manpower on this case so that it does not take away from prosecuting all of the other cases currently in our office,” Carmack-Altwies said, noting that her office is supposed to function with 24 lawyers. “We’re down seven attorneys and we will be down nine by the end of this month.”

Late last week, Gutierrez Reed’s Albuquerque-based lawyers — Jason Bowles and Todd Bullion — objected to the appointment of the new special prosecutor, saying the the law did not allow Carmack-Altwies to stay involved in the case if she planned to hand it off to a special prosecutor.

Bowles argued that if a special prosecutor were allowed, then Carmack-Altwies and her office should also resign.

“I am trying to continue to prosecute this case with the special prosecutor because I think it’s important that this office be involved in the case for the public policy and public accountability,” Carmack-Altwies said in response to Bowles’ criticism.

Bowles suggested that Carmack-Altwies was looking to bolster the case because Baldwin is famous. He said that puts his client, the 25-year-old armorer, who doesn’t have Baldwin’s ample resources, at a distinct disadvantage.

“We did not make a request for extra funding ... because it was Alec Baldwin; we made that request because there were potentially three to five people that we were going to be charging,” Carmack-Altwies said.

Baldwin’s team did not object to the naming of a new special prosecutor.

Sommer indicated that Carmack-Altwies should either hand the case over to a special prosecutor and step aside, or find a way to “stay the course” and prosecute the case with her existing resources.

The judge directed Carmack-Altwies to respond and come up with a plan by week’s end.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.