Alec Baldwin will be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Halyna Hutchins, prosecutors said Thursday. The actor was holding the gun that fired on the set of “Rust,” killing the cinematographer and injuring director Joel Souza.
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was the armorer on the film, will also charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter.
If Baldwin is convicted, he could be facing up to 18 months in prison. However, if he is convicted of that charge, plus a firearm enhancement, he could serve a mandatory sentence of five years, according to a statement from New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies.
The district attorney explained that Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed were “charged in the alternative.” This means a jury will decide not only if the two are guilty but which definition of involuntary manslaughter their actions fall under.
Alec Baldwin will be charged with involuntary manslaughter for the death of Halyna Hutchins.
(Jim Spellman/Getty Images)
ALEC BALDWIN HIT WITH INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER IN DEATH OF HALYNA HUTCHINS, FACING UP TO 18 MONTHS IN PRISON
Baldwin’s attorney called the charges a “terrible miscarriage of justice” in a statement to Fox News Digital.
Following the news of the charges, former Los Angeles County prosecutor Joshua Ritter explained to Fox News Digital the best-case scenario for Baldwin.
Alec Baldwin on the "Rust" movie set in this crime scene photo.
(Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office)
“The most likely way this ends up is for Baldwin to settle the case before the trial,” Ritter, who is not involved in the case, said. “In a plea negotiation, usually a defendant can determine what, if any, sentence they will serve. As we’re seeing with Assistant Director Dave Halls, a defendant can negotiate for something that doesn’t include custody time.”
Halls chose to plead guilty in an agreement with the district attorney’s office. He will be given a suspended sentence and six months probation. Halls was charged with negligent use of a deadly weapon.
“The only way the case against Baldwin doesn’t end in a plea agreement is if his defense team feels that they have a very strong defense. Otherwise, they wouldn’t want to put themselves in that type of jeopardy by placing this in the hands of a jury,” Ritter noted.
Speaking on whether Baldwin will actually see a prison cell, Ritter added, “Baldwin is looking at a possible sentence of 18 months for the underlying charge of involuntary manslaughter and five years for using a gun. I’d be shocked if Baldwin spends five years in prison as a result of this. But that’s the problem with these mandatory minimum sentencing laws. They sometimes give judges very little discretion as to what they can do if a person is convicted by a jury.”
Halyna Hutchins died on the set of "Rust."
(Panish Shea Boyle Ravipudi LLP)
Miguel Custodio, a Los Angeles personal injury attorney and co-founder of Custodio and Dubey LLP, explained to Fox News Digital what the trial could look like for Baldwin.
“I think there will be a battle of experts at trial,” Custodio, who is also not involved in the case, said. “You are going to hear a lot about what the standard is for an actor to check whether a gun is loaded or not, and that may poke holes in the prosecution’s argument.
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“Even so, there’s still a lot of evidence that needs to be divulged,” he added. “The preliminary hearing will tell us exactly what is on the table. District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said that investigators have not determined how the bullets got onto the set, and the defense team will pounce on that.
This aerial photo shows the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, N.M., Oct. 23, 2021. The armorer on set, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, is also facing manslaughter charges.
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong | instagram)
“Whether these charges stick or not, I think New Mexico has made a very important point that if you want to film in the state, you cannot cut corners on safety. In the meantime, for Baldwin, I think he’s going to make it seem like it’s business as usual, that this was a tragic accident, and that he bears no responsibility or blame.”
Duncan Levin, of Levin & Associates, told Fox News Digital he believes this is more of a civil case rather than a criminal case.
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“These charges are extremely serious and carry significant jail time,” Levin, who is not involved with the case, noted.
Actor Alec Baldwin attends the Build Series to discuss "Motherless Brooklyn" at Build Studio Oct. 21, 2019, in New York City.
(Jim Spellman/Getty Images)
“The question is whether these charges would have been brought against a less well-known person,” he added. “The case sounds a lot more like a civil case than a criminal case. It’s about whether Alec Baldwin broke industry standards for the handling of firearms, and that certainly doesn’t sound like a homicide case, much less a criminal case at all.
“And the industry standards aren’t even very clear to begin with. People should only go to prison for violation of well-drawn rules, not this kind of thing, tragic as it may be.”
It’s been more than 14 months since the cinematographer was killed on the New Mexico movie set. Halyna died when a gun Alec Baldwin was holding fired while he was rehearsing a scene Oct. 21, 2021, in a small church on the Bonanza Creek Ranch set.
This aerial photo shows the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, N.M., Oct. 23, 2021. It has been over a year since Halyna Hutchins died on the "Rust" set.
(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong | Photo by Fred Hayes/Getty Images for SAGindie)
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Baldwin has maintained that he did not pull the trigger of the gun — once during a prime-time interview shortly after the deadly shooting and again on a podcast. The actor originally said he had pulled the hammer of the gun back as far as he could and released it, but did not pull the trigger.
Fox News Digital’s Lauryn Overhultz contributed to this report