Rust armourer guilty of cinematographer’s deathon March 7, 2024 at 12:04 am

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Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was found not guilty of a second charge – tampering with evidence.

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A movie set weapons handler who loaded a gun for actor Alec Baldwin before it fired and killed a cinematographer has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was found not guilty of a second charge – tampering with evidence over the 2021 shooting of Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust.

She could now face up to three years in prison.

Mr Baldwin also faces a manslaughter trial over the fatality.

Ms Hutchins, 42, was killed after a gun Mr Baldwin used in a rehearsal fired a live round on the set of the Western in New Mexico.

Jurors only deliberated for a few hours after hearing prosecutors argue throughout the trial that Gutierrez-Reed, who oversaw the film’s weaponry as its armourer, acted recklessly when loading the gun.

Gutierrez-Reed remained expressionless as the jury foreman read the verdict. The judge ordered that she be taken into custody, and she was led away by two deputies.

Her attorney, Jason Bowles, put his head in his hands after the guilty verdict read, and her mother wept behind her in the public seating area.

The verdict is likely to be seen as good news for Mr Baldwin. His attorneys can now argue that it was not foreseeable for their client that there was a live round on set because that was the responsibility of the armourer.

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Prosecutors said Gutierrez-Reed had failed to ensure the weapon was only loaded with dummy rounds – fake bullets used to look and sound like real ones.

“This case is about constant, never-ending safety failures that resulted in the death of a human being,” prosecutor Kari T Morrissey said during closing arguments on Wednesday.

Gutierrez-Reed was “negligent”, “careless” and “thoughtless” when she failed to notice that live bullets had mixed with dummy rounds in a box of ammunition on set, Ms Morrissey told the jurors.

One of those bullets was in the firearm that was used by Mr Baldwin, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors also presented evidence that Gutierrez-Reed had brought a box of live bullets to the New Mexico film set from her California home. They said these live rounds slowly spread throughout the set.

Ms Morrissey said she believed the armourer did not intend to bring live rounds to the set, but rather that Ms Hutchins’ death was a case of tragic negligence.

The prosecutor added that Gutierrez-Reed was more “worried about her career” and less about the victims in the aftermath of the shooting.

Gutierrez-Reed did not testify in the two-week trial, but her lawyer said in closing arguments that prosecutors had failed to prove his client was the sole person responsible for the fatal shooting.

“The [ammunition] boxes don’t matter, because we don’t know what was in them three or four days before,” Mr Bowles told the jury, arguing his client did not know that there were real bullets on set.

Mr Bowles had also blamed Mr Baldwin as he was the one holding the gun when it fired and was the film’s producer.

He said Gutierrez-Reed was “an easy scapegoat”.

Trial witnesses included the film’s director, Joel Souza, who was also shot in the incident but survived.

Mr Souza said he remembered looking up at Gutierrez-Reed after he was shot, and hearing her repeatedly say: “I’m sorry, Joel.”

The jury was also shown emotional and distressing footage of the aftermath of the shooting, when the Colt .45 revolver held by Mr Baldwin went off.

It included a video that appeared to show Ms Hutchins’ final moments, with paramedics frantically trying to save her life.

Last year, the movie’s cast and crew finished filming in tribute to Ms Hutchins, with her husband serving as an executive producer.

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