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Prosecutors seeking to recharge Alec Baldwin in fatal on set shooting

Prosecutors are seeking to recharge Alec Baldwin in fatal on set shooting of Halyna Hutchins.
Prosecutors are seeking to recharge Alec Baldwin in fatal on set shooting of Halyna Hutchins. Copyright Andy Kropa/Invision/AP
Copyright Andy Kropa/Invision/AP
By Euronews with AP
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Actor Alec Baldwin was pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film 'Rust'. It went off, killing her. The actor has always maintained his innocence, saying he never pulled the trigger. He could be charged again with voluntary manslaughter.

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Special prosecutors are seeking to recharge actor Alec Baldwin in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the set of a Western movie in 2021.

New Mexico-based prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis said they’ll present their case to the grand jury within the next two months, noting “additional facts” have come to light in the shooting on the set of the film Rust that killed Halyna Hutchins.

Baldwin, a coproducer of the film, was pointing a gun at Hutchins during a rehearsal on set ranch near Santa Fe when the gun went off on 21 October 2021, killing the cinematographer and wounding director Joel Souza.

“After extensive investigation over the past several months, additional facts have come to light that we believe show Mr. Baldwin has criminal culpability in the death of Halyna Hutchins and the shooting of Joel Souza,” Morrissey and Lewis said in an email. “We believe the appropriate course of action is to permit a panel of New Mexico citizens to determine from here whether Mr. Baldwin should be held over for criminal trial.”

Attorneys for Baldwin said the latest move by prosecutors is misguided.

“It is unfortunate that a terrible tragedy has been turned into this misguided prosecution. We will answer any charges in court,” Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro said in an email.

Special prosecutors initially dismissed an involuntary manslaughter charge against Baldwin in April, saying they were informed the gun might have been modified before the shooting and malfunctioned. They later pivoted and began weighing whether to refile a charge against Baldwin after receiving a new analysis of the gun.

The recent gun analysis from experts in ballistics and forensic testing based in Arizona and New Mexico relied on replacement parts to reassemble the gun fired by Baldwin — after parts of the pistol were broken during earlier testing by the FBI. The report examined the gun and markings it left on a spent cartridge to conclude that the trigger had to have been pulled or depressed.

The analysis led by Lucien Haag of Forensic Science Services in Arizona stated that although Baldwin repeatedly denies pulling the trigger, “given the tests, findings and observations reported here, the trigger had to be pulled or depressed sufficiently to release the fully cocked or retracted hammer of the evidence revolver.”

An earlier FBI report on the agency’s analysis of the gun found that, as is common with firearms of that design, it could go off without pulling the trigger if force was applied to an uncocked hammer - such as by dropping the weapon.

The only way the testers could get it to fire was by striking the gun with a mallet while the hammer was down and resting on the cartridge, or by pulling the trigger while it was fully cocked. The gun eventually broke during testing.

Authorities have not specified exactly how live ammunition found its way on set and into the .45-caliber revolver made by an Italian company that specializes in 19th century reproductions.

The weapons supervisor on the movie set, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering in the case. Her trial is scheduled to begin in February.

The filming of the ill-fated Rust resumed this year in Montana, under an agreement with the cinematographer’s widower, Matthew Hutchins, that made him an executive producer.

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