‘Rust’ Armorer Pleads Not Guilty as Trial Is Set for December

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The trial for the armorer responsible for loading the gun that misfired on the set of the film “Rust” in New Mexico, resulting in the death of its cinematographer, is scheduled to begin on December 6th. Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer, pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering after her lawyer’s efforts to dismiss the case were unsuccessful. By waiving her right to a preliminary hearing, she allowed the judge to proceed with the trial.

Prosecutors accused Gutierrez-Reed, 26, of deviating from the established protocols for handling firearms on film sets. The film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, was fatally shot in October 2021 when the gun, which was being rehearsed with by its star, Alec Baldwin, discharged a live round. Live ammunition is prohibited on movie sets, and prosecutors alleged that Gutierrez-Reed failed to ensure the gun’s safety and neglected to thoroughly inspect the dummy rounds she loaded into it that day. They also claimed that she mishandled previous accidental discharges of blanks in the days leading up to the tragic incident.

Jason Bowles, Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyer, defended her actions on set, stating that she was overwhelmed with job responsibilities and that her requests for additional gun training were rejected. Special prosecutors Kari T. Morrissey and Jason J. Lewis, who took over the case, added an evidence tampering charge, accusing Gutierrez-Reed of passing a bag of cocaine to another individual on the day of the shooting.

The trial is expected to last over a week at the First Judicial District Court in Santa Fe. Gutierrez-Reed is currently out on personal recognizance, which means she does not need to be held in jail as long as she follows certain rules, including regular drug testing.

In January, Alec Baldwin was charged with involuntary manslaughter; however, the charges were dropped in April. Baldwin has consistently maintained that he did not intentionally discharge the gun, and prosecutors have acknowledged that new evidence suggests the firearm may have been modified in a way that led to the unexpected discharge. Recharging Baldwin remains a possibility, as the gun has been sent to an expert for further examination.

Dave Halls, the movie’s first assistant director, pleaded no contest to a charge of negligent handling of a weapon related to the incident, avoiding imprisonment.

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