Alec Baldwin 'Rust' trial: Opening statements, Baldwin's demeanor and more from Day 1

Hilaria Baldwin and Stephen Baldwin support the actor in court as prosecutors begin presenting their case.

Actor Alec Baldwin listens during his hearing at Santa Fe County District Court on July 10 in Santa Fe, N.M.
Actor Alec Baldwin listens during his hearing at Santa Fe County District Court on July 10 in Santa Fe, N.M.(Ross D. Franklin/Getty Images)

Alec Baldwin's day in court has arrived. The 66-year-old actor is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the 2021 death of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and faces up to 18 months in prison if convicted. The jury heard opening statements from the prosecution and defense. The state called four witnesses. Here's a recap of Day 1.

The actor was supported by family members, including Hilaria Baldwin and his brother Stephen Baldwin. They sat behind him in court, and at one point, Hilaria Baldwin appeared to comfort her husband during a break.

Alec Baldwin with his wife, Hilaria Baldwin, during his hearing in Santa Fe County District Court.
Alec Baldwin with his wife, Hilaria Baldwin, during his hearing in Santa Fe County District Court. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

The actor was seen intently taking notes on multiple occasions, particularly when prosecutors spoke. He wore glasses the majority of time the court was in session. Baldwin closely watched evidence as it appeared onscreen in front of him. He looked especially interested in the state's fourth witness, Marissa Poppell, a crime scene technician who inspected the scene.

Baldwin's defense attorney Alex Spiro specifically called out first assistant director David Halls, who was the film's safety coordinator, for declaring the gun "cold" before handing it to the actor. That meant it was safe and the gun had no live ammunition. (Halls denied this in a deposition and took a plea deal early in the case to avoid jail time.) Spiro also put blame on armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed for failing to properly do her job.

"The gun was double-checked, verified it was a cold gun. Not an actor's responsibility to check; safety was ensured before," Spiro said.

"The gun went off during the rehearsal. No one saw [Alec] intentionally pull the trigger," Spiro continued. "It was obviously a tragic accident, but Alec committed no homicide. Alec took the gun from those charged with its safety. He did not tamper with it. He did not load it himself. He did not leave it unattended. ... It was an actor handling a prop."

Spiro repeatedly called out the prosecution as the gun used by Baldwin was damaged by the FBI during testing. Baldwin has maintained he didn't pull the trigger and the gun discharged on its own.

"[The state] never solved the question of the lethal bullet; they destroyed the gun and all they were left with was Alec Baldwin and the movie they intend to put on," he said. "There will not be one witness, not one shred of evidence in this trial that Alec knew or should have known the gun was loaded with a live round. So they can't prove their high-profile homicide case."

Special prosecutor Erlinda Ocampo Johnson alleged that Baldwin "mishandled" the gun on the set and failed to routinely do safety checks with the "inexperienced" on-set armorer.

"You will see him using this gun as a pointer to point at people, to point at things," she said. "You will see him cock the hammer when he's not supposed to," she told jurors. "You will see him put his finger on the trigger when his finger is not supposed to be on the trigger. You will hear about numerous breaches of firearm safety with this defendant and this use of this firearm."

Prosecutors claim that, although the gun was ultimately damaged, they will prove the trigger must have been pulled for it to discharge.

The state called Nicholas LeFleur, an officer with the Santa Fe Police Department, as its first witness. LeFleur was one of the first people to respond to the scene. Bodycam footage was shown depicting the aftermath of the tragedy. Baldwin can be seen talking with Halls. Both are detained, not under arrest.

During cross-examination, LeFleur denied being coached by prosecutors to avoid calling the incident an accident. Spiro pointed out that the officer did not stop crew members from speaking to one another at the scene, which could be viewed as a mistake.

Timoteo Benavidez, a former lieutenant with the Santa Fe Sheriff's office who was on duty the day of the accident, was the second witness. The state called him to establish a chain of custody for the gun in question. He was handed the gun by Gutierrez-Reed.

When asked by Spiro during cross-examination if he knew what happened to the ammunition used in the weapon, Benavidez said, "I do not."

Detective Joseph Lujan with the Santa Fe County Sheriff's office was the third witness to take the stand. He testified about questioning Rust director Joel Souza at the hospital; Souza had been wounded when the gun discharged.

The fourth witness, Poppell, testified that she found five suspected live rounds on the set. She told prosecutors she sent the gun — which the jury was shown — "intact" to the FBI, but when she got it back, it was damaged.

Poppell's testimony will continue and she'll be cross-examined by Baldwin's team. Prosecutors will continue to call witnesses when court resumes on Thursday morning in Santa Fe, N.M.