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Alec Baldwin’s special prosecutor steps down from ‘Rust’ manslaughter case, citing ‘questions’ about role as lawmaker

Alec Baldwin composite featuring, clockwise from left: a still image of the actor in costume, an image of a smiling Halyna Hutchins, and an aerial shot of the set of the movie "Rust."

Alec Baldwin stands accused of the involuntary manslaughter of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins (top right) on the set of “Rust” (bottom right).

Alec Baldwin’s special prosecutor resigned from her position on Tuesday evening, citing “questions” about her role as a New Mexico lawmaker that became the subject of a disqualification motion from the actor.

“After much reflection, I have made the difficult decision to step down as special prosecutor in the ‘Rust’ case,” Andrea Reeb said in a statement. “My priority in this case—and in every case I’ve prosecuted in my 25-year career—has been justice for the victim. However, it has become clear that the best way I can ensure justice is served in this case is to step down so that the prosecution can focus on the evidence and the facts, which clearly show a complete disregard for basic safety protocols led to the death of Halyna Hutchins. I will not allow questions about my serving as a legislator and prosecutor to cloud the real issue at hand.”

With the announcement, Baldwin has succeeded in the first two pretrial motions that he submitted. His first motion described the so-called firearm enhancement to his manslaughter charge as unconstitutional, because the statute was amended after the October 2021 shooting. Prosecutors subsequently dropped that charge. Baldwin’s second motion argued Reeb’s then-dual role as a special prosecutor and a state Republican lawmaker violated New Mexico’s constitution.

New Mexico Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer scheduled a hearing for March 27 on the disqualification motion, which may now be moot.

Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed were both charged with involuntary manslaughter earlier this year and deny any criminal liability in the death of Hutchins, the film’s cinematographer.

The film’s assistant director David Halls signed an as-yet-undisclosed plea agreement for a different charge: negligent use of a deadly weapon. The deal calls for Hall to serve a suspended sentence and six months of probation.

Baldwin’s attorney Luke Nikas did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

Not all legal experts believed that Reeb’s concern was Baldwin’s pending motion.

“Color me skeptical that this prosecutor is stepping down out of concern for her dual role,” said Andrew George, a partner at the law firm Baker Botts. “Just last week, her office filed a brief defending her ability to do that, and the dual role never struck me as a serious legal issue. Many state prosecutors are elected, after all.

“I suspect the real motivator here may have been that this prosecutor’s office was caught making improper, arguably dishonest statements to the media about Mr. Baldwin and his counsel,” George opined. “This prosecutor may have realized she’d killed her credibility before the case even started.”

Reeb made the rounds with Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by Baldwin’s legal team, which cited the appearances in legal briefs. In both appearances, Reeb claimed that the since-dropped firearms enhancement would have carried a mandatory 5-year prison term, an assertion that Baldwin disputed but in any event is now a moot point.

After prosecutors dropped the firearm enhancement, a spokesperson for the government told reporters that the motion challenging it was an “attempt to distract” from the case by Baldwin’s “fancy lawyers.” In a private email, however, Reeb told Baldwin’s lawyer that she “100 percent agree[d]” with him on the law on that issue. The exchange became a court exhibit in one of Baldwin’s filings.

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."