Prosecutors in New Mexico have requested increased funding for potential prosecutions stemming from the deadly shooting that took place on the set of the Alec Baldwin movie Rust last year, in which the actor fired a prop gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza.
As previously reported by Law&Crime, Baldwin — star and producer of the since-scuttled Western — was holding the gun during an impromptu rehearsal when it fired in October 2021. The bullet traveled through Hutchins, fatally wounding her, and then struck Souza, injuring him.
First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies last Tuesday appeared at the New Mexico Board of Finance meeting, where she formally requested emergency funds totaling $635,000 to continue with the investigation into Hutchins’ death.
“We are within weeks, if not days, of receiving the final report from the sheriff’s office,” Carmack-Altwies said during a New Mexico Board of Finance meeting on Sept. 20 (see: 1:34:00 mark of the video below). Despite the report not yet being released, Carmack-Alwies said it had “become apparent that we will be potentially charging between one and four people, uh, with criminal charges and with that — each of those charges will probably include some variation of our homicide statute.”
“Homicide statutes — homicide cases are the most complex and litigious,” the DA noted.
In a letter submitted before the meeting, Carmack-Altwies reportedly specified that prosecutors are planning for “up to 4 separate jury trials,” and noted that “[o]ne of the possible defendants is well known movie actor Alec Baldwin,” the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
The DA explained to the board that her office hoped to use the influx of funding to hire more investigators, topical experts, litigators, and support staff for the extremely complex case.
“These cases look to be too big for just my office to handle,” Carmack-Altwies said. “We need an almost full-time attorney and someone who is very experienced on complex cases and very experienced with litigation.”
The DA also said that she and two other assistant prosecutors from the office planned to remain on the case and any unused funds would be returned.
“The report coming in in October means we will be under the gun — no pun intended — to get moving on these cases and to get these cases charged if that is what the facts warrant,” she said. “It’s merely that we need it starting in October to start retaining people.”
The Board of Finance subsequently approved funding for $317,750, half of the money requested by the district attorney’s office, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported. “We will be requesting a special appropriation for the rest of the money,” Carmack-Altwies reportedly said Thursday.
The DA reportedly refused to comment when asked about which specific members of the cast and crew might be facing charges. When asked about the specific charges her office may charge, she reportedly said that prosecutors were “certainly looking at all the homicide statutes and any gun statutes under the New Mexico criminal code.”
Pushing back on the DA’s remarks, Baldwin’s lawyer Luke Nikas reportedly told the Los Angeles Times that people should not rush to judgment. The DA, the lawyer reportedly said, “made clear that she has not received the sheriff’s report or made any decisions about who, if anyone, might be charged in this case.”
Deadline also quoted Nikas as saying that the DA’s office “must be given the space to review this matter without unfounded speculation and innuendo.”
An autopsy performed by the New Mexico Office of the Medical Examiner reportedly determined that the shooting was accidental.
Baldwin has repeatedly maintained that he never pulled the trigger on the weapon, but the FBI’s probe into the shooting concluded that “the firearm used in the shooting” on Oct. 21, 2021 “could not have been fired without pulling the trigger.”
[Image via ABC screengrab]
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