Alec Baldwin Lashes Out At Santa Fe D.A. Over Firearm Enhancement Charge For Fatal ‘Rust’ Shooting; Actor & Armorer Face 5 Yrs Behind Bars If Found Guilty

Facing some harsh time, Alec Baldwin wants a New Mexico judge to toss out charges that could see him end up behind bars for five years for the 2021 fatal shooting of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins 

“The prosecutors in this case have committed an unconstitutional and elementary legal error by charging Mr. Baldwin under a statute that did not exist on the date of the accident,” declared the multiple Emmy winning actor’s defense team in a motion filed in the Land of Enchantment today. “It thus appears that the government intended to charge the current version of the firearm enhancement statute, which was not enacted until May 18, 2022, seven months after the accident,” the filing Friday goes on to say (read it here).

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After an extensive probe by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s office was released late last year, Baldwin and Rust armorer Hannah  Gutierrez-Reed  were formally charged by  Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies with two counts of involuntary manslaughter on January 31 over the October 21, 2021 shooting of Hutchins at Bonanza Creek Ranch.

When those charges were initially announced January 19, Baldwin’s legal team called the move a “terrible miscarriage of justice” and vowed to “fight these charges, and we will win.”

Under New Mexico law, the first charge has lighter consequences as a fourth-degree felony, with sentencing of up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine. The second charge, involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act, also is a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in jail and up to a $5000 fine. However, the second charge in question here also carries a firearm enhancement, which transforms the offense to a mandatory five years in state prison if found guilty.

“Accordingly, that enhancement should not be bound over,” the document adds in an opinion that has divided legal scholars. “Application of the current version of the statute would be unconstitutionally retroactive, and the government has no legitimate basis to charge Mr. Baldwin under the version of the statute that existed at the time of the accident.”

Needless to say, the D.A. sees it differently, sort of.

“The District Attorney and special prosecutor are actively reviewing all applicable laws to ensure they have the strongest case to secure justice for Halyna Hutchins,” said spokesperson Heather Brewer earlier this week when the issue first arose. At the time, Brewer pointed out to Deadline that no changes to the charges had occurred. Today, the D.A.’s office did not response to request for comment on Baldwin’s new motion.

Long denying against FBI evidence and more that he pulled the trigger on the 1880s prop gun that killed Hutchins and wounded Rust director Joel Souza, Baldwin and his NYC-based Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan lawyers already started the week trying to get special prosecutor Andrea Reeb kicked to the judicial curb for also being a GOP state legislator. After legitimate discussion of the enhancement stature peculated a few days ago, today’s filing only adds another item to the agenda for the upcoming February 24 first hearing in the criminal case.

Even beyond the special prosecutor and the enhancement disputes, it has been a busy week over the Rust tragedy, legally and optically.

Yesterday, amid a plethora of previously filed civil lawsuits in California and New Mexico over the fatal shooting of Hutchins, Gloria Allred brought a suit on behalf of the DoP’s Ukrainian-based family members Olga Solovey, Anatoli Androsvych and Svetlana Zemko against Baldwin, his management firm Cavalry Media, and the Western movie’s producers. The suit asked for unspecified damages “against each defendant.” 

“There has been no outreach by Mr. Baldwin, no apology,” Allred said yesterday, “we want accountability and justice for them.”

Baldwin and the Rust producers reached a settlement last October with Hutchin’s widower husband Matthew Hutchins with his wrongful-death suit dropped, and an EP title on the Rust movie when it resumes production. However, there’s been no news of when the movie will return to production after scouting locations in California and Nevada, especially as criminal charges loom for Baldwin in New Mexico. “Matt Hutchins is pursuing claims on his behalf and on behalf of Andros,” lawyer Brian J. Panish told Deadline on February 9 for his client. “We do not believe any other family members have a claim under New Mexico or California law. Neither Mr. Hutchins nor his attorneys were made aware of the family’s intention to file a lawsuit before today.”

From network interviews to sit-downs with law enforcement, the Oscar-nominated Baldwin has asserted that not only did he never pulled the trigger on the gun during a Rust rehearsal, but that he was informed was a “cold gun” by the 1st Assistant Director Dave Halls minutes before the shooting. Set as one of dozens of potential witnesses against Baldwin and Reed, Halls struck an as-yet unreleased plea deal with New Mexico prosecutors late last year.

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