Hilaria Baldwin and Alec Baldwin speak for the first time about the accidental shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza on the set of the film “Rust” October 30, 2021 in Manchester, Vermont.
MEG | GC Images | Getty Images
New Mexico prosecutors on Thursday dismissed claims by Alec Baldwin’s attorneys that state authorities destroyed the gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie Rust.
“I don’t think the court is aware of this point, but I think I should tell the court that the firearm in this case … was destroyed by the state,” Alex Spiro, one of Baldwin’s attorneys, said during a hearing Thursday. “Obviously that’s a problem and we need to see that gun or what’s left of it.”
Prosecutors did not respond to Spiro’s allegation during the hearing, but said in a statement to CNBC that Spiro’s allegation was false.
“The gun used by Alec Baldwin in the shooting that killed Halyna Hutchins was not destroyed by the state. The weapon is in evidence for the defense to review,” said Heather Brewer, spokeswoman for the New Mexico First Circuit Attorney’s Office.
“The defense’s unexpected statement in today’s status hearing that the weapon was destroyed by the state may be a reference to a statement in the FBI’s July 2022 firearms test report that damage was caused to internal components of the gun during the FBI’s functional testing.” However, the weapon still exists and can be used as evidence.”
Baldwin, star and producer of “Rust,” was gun-in-hand when she killed Hutchins. He has denied pulling the trigger.
Baldwin’s attorneys and the film’s original gunsmith, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, appeared virtually at Thursday’s status hearing. The defendants face two separate counts of involuntary manslaughter following the fatal shooting of camerawoman Halyna Hutchins in October 2021. Both charges carry a maximum possible prison sentence of 18 months. A jury will decide which, if any, of the two counts to convict.
Prosecutors are already under pressure for a number of mistakes they have made since criminal proceedings were initiated just over a month ago. For example, the potential 18-month prison sentence is a lesser sentence than was initially provided for Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed.
Special prosecutor Andrea Reeb originally charged Baldwin with a firearms enhancement that would add five more years to his sentence if convicted. Reeb admitted in emails to Baldwin’s attorneys that she misapplied this improvement, which was not in effect at the time of the shooting.
Baldwin’s attorneys filed a motion for Reeb’s resignation from the case on Feb. 7, which she denied on Monday.
Reeb is also serving as the special prosecutor in the Rust case while serving as a Republican legislator. The New Mexico Constitution prohibits a member of one branch of government from exercising power in another branch.
The prosecutor’s office claimed in Monday’s court filings that the “logical conclusion” is that special prosecutors belong to neither the executive nor the judiciary, since special prosecutors “do not fit into either the executive or the judiciary.” Conversely, in their February filing, Baldwin’s attorneys argued that the prosecutor’s office cannot be neatly divided into executive or judicial branches, since it falls into both branches.
A disqualification motion hearing is scheduled for March 27.