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'Rust' armourer sentenced to 18 months in prison for fatal on-set shooting

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, centre, the armourer on the set of the Western film "Rust" receives a sentence of 18 months for involuntary manslaughter.
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, centre, the armourer on the set of the Western film "Rust" receives a sentence of 18 months for involuntary manslaughter. Copyright Eddie Moore/AP Photo
Copyright Eddie Moore/AP Photo
By Anca UleaAP
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Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the weapons handler on the set of the Western film "Rust," was sentenced to 18 months in prison over the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was fatally shot by Alec Baldwin.

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The weapons supervisor on the set of the Western film “Rust” was sentenced to 18 months in prison during a hearing on Monday (15 April), over the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins by Alec Baldwin.

A New Mexico judge found that Hannah Gutierrez-Reed’s recklessness amounted to a serious violent offence, noting few indications of genuine remorse from the defendant since she was convicted in March.

Prosecutors blame Gutierrez-Reed for unwittingly bringing live ammunition onto the set of “Rust”, where it was expressly forbidden, and for failing to follow basic gun-safety protocols.

Gutierrez-Reed was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in March by a jury, and has been held for over a month in a jail outside the state capital Santa Fe. The 26-year-old had tried to plea for a lesser sentencing, telling the judge that she was not the monster she had been depicted as, and had done her best without “proper time, resources and staffing.”

Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyer said she plans to appeal the judgement and sentence.

At Monday’s hearing, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer said anything less than the maximum sentence would not be appropriate, considering the consequences of her negligence.

“You were the armourer, the one that stood between a safe weapon and a weapon that could kill someone,” the judge told Gutierrez-Reed. “You alone turned a safe weapon into a lethal weapon. But for you, Ms. Hutchins would be alive, a husband would have his partner and a little boy would have his mother.”

In this image from video released by the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office, Alec Baldwin speaks with investigators following a fatal shooting on the set of the film "Rust."
In this image from video released by the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office, Alec Baldwin speaks with investigators following a fatal shooting on the set of the film "Rust."Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office via AP, File

Baldwin, the lead actor and co-producer of “Rust,” was pointing a gun at Hutchins during a rehearsal on the movie set in October 2021 when the revolver went off, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

Baldwin has pleaded not guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter. He is scheduled for trial in July at a courthouse in Santa Fe.

'Lack of remorse'

Special prosecutor Kari Morrissey urged the judge to impose the maximum prison sentence and designate Gutierrez-Reed as a “serious violent offender” to limit her eligibility for a sentence reduction later, describing the defendant’s behaviour on the set of “Rust” as exceptionally reckless.

But on top of that, Morrissey said the armourer’s attitude and lack of remorse in phone calls since her conviction was concerning.

Morrissey told the judge Monday that she reviewed nearly 200 phone calls that Gutierrez-Reed had made from jail over the last month. She said she was hoping there would be a moment when the defendant would take responsibility for what happened or express genuine remorse.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed wipes her tears at her sentencing hearing in state district court in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Monday, April 15, 2024.
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed wipes her tears at her sentencing hearing in state district court in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Monday, April 15, 2024.Luis Sanchez Saturno/AP Photo

“That moment has never come,” Morrissey said. “Ms. Gutierrez continues to refuse to accept responsibility for her role in the death of Halyna Hutchins.”

The judge indicated that summary transcripts of Gutierrez-Reed's telephone conversations from jail weighed in the sentencing.

“Hannah says that people have accidents and people die, it’s an unfortunate part of life but it doesn’t mean she should be in jail,” Marlowe Sommer said. “The word ‘remorse’ – a deep regret coming from a sense of guilt for past wrongs – that’s not you.”

Defense attorneys argued Monday that Gutierrez-Reed was remorseful and had breakdowns over Hutchins' death. They also pointed to systemic problems that led to the shooting.

“Rust” assistant director and safety coordinator Dave Halls last year pleaded no contest to negligent handling of a firearm and completed a sentence of six months unsupervised probation. “Rust” props master Sarah Zachry, who shared some responsibilities over firearms on the set, signed an agreement with prosecutors to avoid prosecution in return for her cooperation.

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