Opening Statements in Hannah Gutierrez-Reed Trial Highlight Dueling Portrayals of Responsibility in Rust Set Shooting

The trial of Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the young armorer charged with involuntary manslaughter in the Rust set shooting, began with contrasting narratives presented by the prosecution and defense during opening statements in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Gutierrez-Reed, 26, has pleaded not guilty to the charges of negligently loading a live bullet into the gun that actor Alec Baldwin accidentally fired, resulting in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on October 21, 2021.

Prosecutors argued that Gutierrez-Reed carelessly brought live ammunition onto the set of Rust, disregarded safety protocols, and initiated a chain of events that led to Hutchins’ tragic death. They also alleged that Gutierrez-Reed asked a crew member to hide a bag of cocaine for her shortly after the shooting. In contrast, the defense claimed that Gutierrez-Reed was a scapegoat and the least powerful person on the set, placing the blame on Baldwin, who they argued violated basic gun safety rules.

Lead defense lawyer Jason Bowles argued that Gutierrez-Reed was set up for failure, as she was forced to divide her time between managing guns and working as a props assistant. He criticized the producers for splitting her hours and creating a chaotic environment where she was unable to fully perform her duties as an armorer. Bowles also highlighted the fact that the production was fined a record amount by New Mexico’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau for safety breakdowns, suggesting that the responsibility for the tragedy extended beyond Gutierrez-Reed.

The defense further criticized the safety protocols implemented by Rust’s first assistant director, Dave Halls, and accused him of mishandling previous accidental weapons discharges on set. They argued that Halls and the producers were primarily focused on rushing the production to meet financial goals, compromising safety measures.

Prosecutors countered by presenting evidence that Gutierrez-Reed regularly failed to carry out her duties as an armorer, leaving guns and ammunition unattended and disorganized. They claimed that she treated safety protocols as optional, contributing to Hutchins’ death by failing to thoroughly check each cartridge loaded into Baldwin’s revolver.

During the trial, a crime lab technician testified that DNA testing on the live rounds found on the set was not conducted because it is not standard practice in forensics work. The technician explained that the likelihood of obtaining enough DNA cells for a profile is very small.

Author: CrimeDoor

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