Prosecutor says Alec Baldwin ‘violated cardinal rules of gun safety’ during trial opening – The Tri-City Record

Actor Alec Baldwin listens during his hearing in Santa Fe County Court on Wednesday in Santa Fe. Baldwin is charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of a cinematographer. Ross D. Franklin/AP Photo, Pool

Baldwin claimed the gun was fired accidentally after following instructions

SANTA FE — A prosecutor told jurors that Alec Baldwin “violated cardinal rules of gun safety” in opening statements Wednesday at his involuntary manslaughter trial.

“The evidence will show that someone who played pretend with a real gun and violated the cardinal rules of firearm safety is the defendant, Alexander Baldwin,” said Special Prosecutor Erlinda Ocampo Johnson.

She stressed that the set of the film “Rust,” where cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, “a dynamic 42-year-old rising star,” was shot, was a workplace.

“The evidence will show that, as in many workplaces, there are people who act recklessly and put other people in danger,” Johnson said. “That’s the defendant, you’ll hear from him.”

Johnson recounted to jurors the events leading up to the Oct. 21, 2021, shooting. She said that on that day, Baldwin repeatedly refused to submit to standard pre-rehearsal security checks and instead “did his own thing” with the gun at the rehearsal where Hutchins was killed.

“He cocks the hammer, points it directly at Miss Hutchins and fires that gun, putting that live round directly into Miss Hutchins’ body,” Johnson said.

Johnson is a newcomer to the case, appointed in late April by the Santa Fe District Attorney’s Office.

The trial will examine the confluence of gun safety, high-profile celebrity and a low-budget Western film set on a remote ranch.

The 16 jurors — 11 women and five men — come from an area where gun ownership and safety are high, due to backcountry hunting. Four of the jurors will be considered alternates while the other 12 will deliberate once they are assigned the case.

The shooting death of cinematographer Hutchins nearly three years ago sent shockwaves through the film industry and led to a felony charge against Baldwin that could carry up to 18 months in prison.

Baldwin pleaded not guilty. He entered the courtroom with a disposable coffee cup in his hand. His wife Hilaria Baldwin and his brother, Stephen Baldwin, sat nearby in the audience, among the defendant’s relatives and friends.

He sat surrounded by his lawyers, dressed in a dark blue suit, in the courthouse in downtown Santa Fe, a short drive from the ranch where the scenes in “Rust” take place.

Baldwin claimed the shot was fired accidentally after he followed instructions to point the gun at Hutchins, who was behind the camera. Unaware that the gun was loaded with a live round, he said he pulled the hammer — not the trigger — and the shot was fired.

Prosecutors said they will present evidence that Baldwin “deviated from the script” and failed to follow basic industry standards for gun safety when he pointed the firearm at Hutchins on Oct. 21, 2021.

Baldwin, the star of “Beetlejuice,” “Glengarry Glen Ross” and “30 Rock,” has been a household name as an actor and public figure for more than three decades.

In court documents, defense attorneys pointed out that the gunsmith, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, had already been found responsible for the shooting, as well as testimony that the gun had been checked by an assistant director before being given to Baldwin — and that the shooting was incomprehensible and shocking to the entire film crew because of their belief that there was no live ammunition on set.

Prosecutors have two possible standards for proving the charge. One is based on the negligent use of a firearm. The other is to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Baldwin acted with reckless disregard or indifference to the safety of others.

Testimony at the trial will focus on the flaws in the gun’s final safety check before Baldwin began training with it, as well as the gun’s mechanism and the ability to fire without pulling the trigger. The live round that killed Hutchins also wounded director Joel Souza.

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Dalton reported from Los Angeles.

___ For more information on the Alec Baldwin manslaughter trial, visit: https://apnews.com/hub/alec-baldwin

Actor Alec Baldwin arrives for his hearing in Santa Fe County District Court with attorney Luke Nikas, left, Wednesday, July 10, 2024, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Baldwin faces a single charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a cinematographer. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Hilaria Baldwin listens during her husband, actor Alec Baldwin’s, hearing in Santa Fe County District Court, Wednesday, July 10, 2024, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Baldwin faces a single charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a cinematographer. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)

Actor Alec Baldwin interacts with his wife Hilaria Baldwin during his hearing in Santa Fe County District Court, Wednesday, July 10, 2024, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Baldwin faces a single charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a cinematographer. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)

Prosecutor Erlinda Ocampo Johnson speaks during actor Alec Baldwin’s hearing in Santa Fe County District Court, Wednesday, July 10, 2024, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Baldwin faces a single charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a cinematographer. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)

Actor Alec Baldwin, right, arrives for his hearing in Santa Fe County District Court with attorney Luke Nikas, Wednesday, July 10, 2024, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Baldwin faces a single charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a cinematographer. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Actor Alec Baldwin arrives for his hearing in Santa Fe County District Court, Wednesday, July 10, 2024, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Baldwin faces a single charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a cinematographer. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)

Actor Stephen Baldwin listens during his brother Alec Baldwin’s hearing in Santa Fe County District Court, Wednesday, July 10, 2024, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Baldwin faces a single charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a cinematographer. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)

Actor Alec Baldwin leaves court after jury selection in his involuntary manslaughter trial, Tuesday, July 9, 2024, in Santa Fe, N.M. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Prosecutor Kari Morrissey leaves court after jury selection in the involuntary manslaughter trial of actor Alec Baldwin, Tuesday, July 9, 2024, in Santa Fe, N.M. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Actor Alec Baldwin, left, sits with his attorney Luke Nikas, in U.S. District Court in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Monday, July 8, 2024, during a preliminary hearing in his involuntary manslaughter trial for a fatal shooting on the set of the movie “Rust.” (Luis Sánchez Saturno/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP)

Media gather outside New Mexico First Judicial District Court where Alec Baldwin participated in a preliminary hearing, Monday, July 8, 2024, in Santa Fe, N.M. Baldwin faces a single charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a cinematographer. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Alec Baldwin wipes his eyes during a preliminary hearing, Monday, July 8, 2024, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The actor’s involuntary manslaughter trial begins July 9 with jury selection. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)