Alec Baldwin: Rust shooting charges downgraded by US prosecutors

 (Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office)
(Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office)

Prosecutors in New Mexico abandoned efforts to seek a five-year prison sentence for Alec Baldwin over the death of Rust movie cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Baldwin’s attorney declined to comment on Monday after law bosses opted instead to pursue an essentially reduced charge against him.

The actor’s team argued that the firearms enhancement prosecutors had tried to attach to the case was not state law when the deadly on-set shooting occurred in October 2021.

Reckless disregard of safety “without due caution and circumspection” carried a higher threshold of wrongdoing.

Legal experts had said Baldwin, 64, had a strong chance of seeing it dismissed.

“The prosecutors committed a basic legal error by charging Mr Baldwin under a version of the firearm-enhancement statue that did not exist on the date of the accident,” Baldwin’s attorneys said in an earlier court filing.

Baldwin, who still faces a count of involuntary manslaughter, now is looking at a maximum of 18 months in prison if convicted.

Hutchins, 42, was fatally wounded during rehearsals on the set of Rust at a movie ranch outside of Santa Fe. Baldwin was pointing a pistol in Hutchins’ direction when the gun fired, striking her.


One of Rust’s directors, Joel Souza, was also injured. Baldwin has insisted the incident was a “tragic accident” and says he was told the gun was not loaded with live rounds and therefore safe. While officials deemed Hutchins’ death an accident, prosecutors brought involuntary manslaughter charges against Baldwin and set armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed.

Santa Fe prosecutors said they made their decision to curtail legal battles with Baldwin’s legal team.

State officials said in a statement: “In order to avoid further litigious distractions by Mr Baldwin and his attorneys, [prosecutors] have removed the firearm enhancement to the involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of Halyna Hutchins on the Rust film set,”

“The prosecution’s priority is securing justice, not securing billable hours for big-city attorneys.”