In an throughly unsurprising move, Alec Baldwin has officially entered a plea of not guilty today to charges arising out of the fatal shooting cinematographer Haylna Hutchins on the Rust set in 2021.
Facing involuntary manslaughter charges in the criminal case, the plea by the multiple Emmy winning actor comes one day before what was supposed to be the first hearing in the matter. With the plea entry, Baldwin has waived his right to that hearing and New Mexico Judge Mary Marlow Sommer has canceled the February 24 session.
After a detailed and FBI-assisted investigation by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office was released late last year, Baldwin and Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed were formally charged by D.A. Mary Carmack-Altwies with two counts of involuntary manslaughter on January 31 over the October 21, 2021, death of Hutchins at Bonanza Creek Ranch. Rust director Joel Souza was wounded in that shooting.
Baldwin is now facing a maximum of 18 months behind bars and some fines if found guilty in the upcoming trial — unless a deal is work out beforehand.
“I hereby certify that I have explained to Mr. Baldwin his right to personally appear before the District Cou11 to enter a plea of Not Guilty and to have his rights explained to him by the judge and I am satisfied that Mr. Baldwin understands the waiver of these rights,” Baldwin’s lead lawyer Luke Nikas said in paperwork submitted in court in the Land of Enchantment Thursday (read it here).
As part of the conditions imposed by Judge Sommer today, Baldwin is not to hold a gun, drink or speak with potential or probable witnesses in the criminal case unless it is in “connection with completing the Rust movie and other related and unrelated business matters (read it here.)
Baldwin was to appear virtually at tomorrow’s now axed hearing. A preliminary hearing is set to occur with two months of the defendants entering a plea. Accused of “criminal negligence” by the D.A. for firing the 1880’s prop gun that killed Hutchins, the Rust star/producer is expected to be in person at that upcoming hearing.
Reed will still be making a virtual appearance at the February 24 hearing for herself, the crew member’s lawyer Jason Bowles tells Deadline. Reed has not yet entered a plea and is not required to do so tomorrow.
When Baldwin and Reed were first formally charged, the second count had a potential sentence of five years in state prison attached, but that was “removed” on February 20 by First Judicial D.A. Carmack-Altwies, likely with some reluctance. In what can only be characterized as a big win for the defense, Baldwin and Reed’s lawyers successfully objected to the “enhancement” charge as “unconstitutional” because it had become a state statute in mid-2022, months after the tragic shooting on the set of the indie Western.
(Excerpt) Read more in: Deadline