Alec Baldwin Needs to Be 'Contrite, Not Combative' at Rust Shooting Trial, Says Crisis PR Expert

Alec Baldwin's attorney Luke Nikas has announced the star's intention to "fight" the involuntary manslaughter charges Santa Fe County District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies and special prosecutor Andrea Reeb intend to file against him in the deadly 2021 on-set shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

And with a trial nearly all but certain, crisis PR management expert Gary Rosen says it is imperative for Baldwin to come across to a jury as "a good husband, loving father and family man. He can maintain his innocence of the charges, but it's essential that he is contrite and not combative."

Baldwin, who shares seven children with wife Hilaria, 39 (he's also father to daughter Ireland, 27, from a previous marriage to Kim Basinger, 69), should also refrain from giving any more interviews on the topic in the immediate future.

"I would advise Alec to let his attorneys handle this going forward. That's what he's paying him for," says Rosen, who adds that Baldwin's December 2021 ABC News interview was a misstep.

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Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin

Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office/ZUMA Alec Baldwin on the set of Rust

In the memorable sit-down with George Stephanopoulos, Baldwin proclaimed his innocence and also declared "I have been told by people in the know, even inside the state, that it is highly unlikely that I would be charged criminally."

Though he held the Colt .45 at the time it went off, killing the 42-year-old mother and injuring director Joel Souza during a rehearsal, Baldwin has said he did not know the gun mistakenly contained a live bullet. In addition to that, "I didn't pull the trigger," he told Stephanopoulos.

Rosen says the chat and Baldwin's bold prediction about avoiding charges "didn't do him any favors."

Following the prosecutors' Jan. 19 announcement about their intention to file charges, Baldwin's attorney Nikas slammed the move. "This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins' tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice," he said in the Jan. 19 statement. "Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the movie set. He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds."

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The D.A.'s office said armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed will also be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. Assistant director David Halls signed a plea agreement for the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon.

Jason Bowles and Todd J. Bullion, attorneys for Gutierrez-Reed, said in a statement, "Hannah is, and has always been, very emotional and sad about this tragic accident. But she did not commit involuntary manslaughter. These charges are the result of a very flawed investigation, and an inaccurate understanding of the full facts. We intend to bring the full truth to light and believe Hannah will be exonerated of wrongdoing by a jury."

Assistant director Halls' attorney Lisa Torracco, said in a statement, "Mr. Halls accepted a petty misdemeanor charge. Absent no charges at all, this is the best outcome for Mr. Halls and the case. He can now put this matter behind him and allow the focus of this tragedy to be on the shooting victims and changing the industry so this type of accident will never happen again. His charge is a petty misdemeanor. No jail time. Unsupervised probation. $500 fine. Mr. Halls denies handing a firearm to Mr. Baldwin."

In New Mexico, involuntary manslaughter is a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine, according to a press release. The other involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act charge is also a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in jail and up to a $5000 fine; since a firearm was involved, this is punishable by a mandatory five years in jail.

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