Arizona-based armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was overseeing the use of weapons on the movie set where Alec Baldwin fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, has waived her right to a preliminary hearing. This decision means that court testimony from eyewitnesses to the shooting will not be heard during the hearing. Gutierrez-Reed, who is facing charges of involuntary manslaughter and evidence-tampering, also decided against a review of charges by a grand jury.
Gutierrez-Reed’s defense attorney, Jason Bowles, asserts that the tragic death of Hutchins on October 21, 2021, was a terrible accident and argues that his client committed no crime. Gutierrez-Reed has not entered a plea yet but could face up to three years in prison if convicted.
In a separate development, “Rust” safety coordinator and assistant director David Halls has entered a no contest plea to a charge of unsafe handling of a firearm. He received a suspended sentence of six months’ probation. Baldwin, on the other hand, had the charges against him dropped in April. Prosecutors have, however, reserved the right to refile charges against him pending the outcome of additional weapons testing regarding the gun’s hammer modification.
The incident has raised questions about how live ammunition ended up on the film set and in the .45-caliber revolver. Authorities allege that Gutierrez-Reed loaded the gun with dummy ammunition, which should have been inert, prior to a lunch break. They contend that she was negligent in her duties, leading to a breakdown in safety protocols during rehearsals with the live round present in the weapon.
Furthermore, Gutierrez-Reed is now facing an evidence-tampering charge. Prosecutors claim that she offered a small bag of narcotics to a colleague during police interviews conducted on the day of the shooting. Bowles has criticized this move, accusing prosecutors of engaging in character assassination.
As part of her pretrial release, Gutierrez-Reed will be subjected to regular drug testing at her own expense, following the approval of new terms by a New Mexico judge.
Following the tragic incident, production of “Rust” resumed in Montana in April under an agreement with Matthew Hutchins, the husband of the late cinematographer, who now serves as an executive producer. Rust Movie Productions, the original financier of the movie, has paid a $100,000 fine to New Mexico workplace safety regulators due to their serious safety failures, although they were deemed non-willful.
While the Hollywood industry has witnessed a significant shift towards the use of replicas and digital-effects gunfire since the shooting, the implementation of measures like gun bans through legislation, studio requirements, or union demands has not materialized.
In conclusion, Gutierrez-Reed’s decision to waive her preliminary hearing has affected the range of court testimony regarding the tragic movie set shooting involving Alec Baldwin. As the sole remaining defendant, Gutierrez-Reed continues to face charges of involuntary manslaughter and evidence-tampering. The incident has sparked a review of safety protocols and renewed discussions about the use of firearms in the film industry.