Alec Baldwin Pleads Not Guilty to ‘Rust’ Manslaughter Charge

Alec Baldwin has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter in the “Rust” shooting, avoiding a formal arraignment on the charge.

Baldwin faces up to 18 months in prison if convicted of negligently shooting Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer on the film, in October 2021.

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Baldwin was indicted by a New Mexico grand jury on Jan. 19, one year after prosecutors initially filed charges against him that were later dropped. The actor was scheduled to appear for a video arraignment via Google Meet on Thursday, but opted instead to waive the appearance.

Baldwin remains free without bail. Under the terms of release, he cannot possess firearms or drink alcohol, and is not to have contact with witnesses in the case, except for business reasons related to the release of the film.

The terms also forbid him from soliciting witnesses to participate in a behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of the film.

Baldwin was preparing for a scene in the Western film when his gun, a Colt .45, went off, killing the cinematographer and wounding the director. The film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, is facing trial next month on charges of involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering.

Baldwin has maintained that he did not pull the trigger, and has said that he has been trained not to point a gun at someone and fire. A dispute over whether the gun was functioning properly led to the dismissal of the original charges last April, as the prosecutors were not ready to take the case to a preliminary hearing.

The special prosecutors in the case, Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis, hired forensic experts who concluded last summer that the trigger must have been pulled in order to fire. Morrissey and Lewis had vowed to re-file the charges if it could be shown that the gun was functioning.

Baldwin’s lawyers are likely to challenge that conclusion, and have noted that the gun was broken during earlier test firing at an FBI lab.

SAG-AFTRA has defended Baldwin’s conduct in the case, noting that as an actor he was not responsible for gun safety on set. Baldwin was also a producer on the film, though the extent of his oversight responsibilities has been in dispute.

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