Judge in Alec Baldwin’s “Rust” Case Upholds His Involuntary Manslaughter Charge, Trial Will Proceed

Mary Marlowe Sommer ruled after prosecutors and the defense made arguments at a May 17 hearing stemming from Baldwin’s motion to have the charge dismissed

<p>Jim Spellman/Getty</p> Alec Baldwin in 2019

Jim Spellman/Getty

Alec Baldwin in 2019

The New Mexico judge presiding over Alec Baldwin’s involuntary manslaughter case upheld the charge against him, paving the way for his July trial to proceed.

In an order posted Friday, May 24, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer denied the motion to dismiss the indictment against Baldwin, 66, who was holding a prop gun on the New Mexico set of the Western movie Rust in 2021, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.

Sommer wrote that the court did not find, among others, that the jury was instructed improperly, nor did the prosecution violate instruction of the grand jury judge.

"We look forward to our day in court," Baldwin's lawyers told PEOPLE on Friday.

In March, attorneys for the former 30 Rock star filed a motion to have the case dismissed. They made several arguments, including a claim that special prosecutor Kari T. Morrissey gave “prejudicial” instructions to a grand jury, which ultimately indicted Baldwin, film’s star and producer.

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

Baldwin, who has insisted he did not pull the trigger or know the gun accidentally contained live ammunition, faces up to 18 months in prison if convicted at trial.

In their April response to Baldwin’s motion, Morrissey and fellow special prosecutor Jason J. Lewis (who has since stepped down from the case due to scheduling conflicts) called the claims from Baldwin’s lawyers “patently false.”

Related: Everything to Know About the Rust Shooting Case and Alec Baldwin's Upcoming Trial

In the same documents, they claimed the actor was “frequently screaming and cursing” on set and called him “a man who has absolutely no control of his own emotions and absolutely no concern for how his conduct affects those around him.”

On April 22, Baldwin’s attorneys filed a reply to that response, which opened with a blistering quote attributed to an unknown author: “When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”

They referred to the prosecutors’ response as “a 32-page jeremiad against Baldwin and his lawyers that does not cite a single legal decision, does not distinguish Baldwin’s authorities, and spends no more than five pages addressing the core legal issues raised in Baldwin’s motion.”

Related: Rust Trial Is 'Stressful Situation' for Alec Baldwin and Wife Hilaria After Armorer's Verdict (Source)

Following the bitter back-and-forth between the prosecution and the defense, Sommer set the May 17 hearing to listen to arguments from the prosecution and the defense.

<p>Mat Hayward/Getty</p> Halyna Hutchins in 2018

Mat Hayward/Getty

Halyna Hutchins in 2018

The judge could have made a ruling based on the court documents alone, according to legal expert Emily D. Baker, a lawyer and former L.A. Deputy District Attorney who is not involved in the case.

But Baker previously told PEOPLE she thinks a hearing was warranted: “It's appropriate in the motion to dismiss to allow the attorneys to be heard.”

Sommer also presided over the trial of Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was in charge of the weapons on the set of the movie. She was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in March and was sentenced by Sommer to the maximum 18 months in prison.

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