UPDATE [8:14 ET] With Statement from Special Prosecutors: Criminal charges against Alec Baldwin in the ongoing “Rust” case will be dropped imminently, special prosecutors in New Mexico confirmed in a statement to IndieWire.
Prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis, who were appointed to the “Rust” case after District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies recently stepped away from the prosecution, said that “new facts” that came to light demanded further investigation ahead of a planned preliminary hearing on May 3, resulting in them dropping involuntary manslaughter charges. However, they stressed that this doesn’t close the book on it, and a follow-up investigation remains ongoing.
Additionally despite an earlier media report saying otherwise, an involuntary manslaughter charge against former “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed remain unchanged.
“Over the last few days and in preparation for the May 3, 2023, preliminary hearing, new facts were revealed that demand further investigation and forensic analysis in the case against Alexander ‘Alec’ Rae Baldwin, III. Consequently, we cannot proceed under the current time constraints and on the facts and evidence turned over by law enforcement in its existing form. We therefore will be dismissing the involuntary manslaughter charges against Mr. Baldwin to conduct further investigation. This decision does not absolve Mr. Baldwin of criminal culpability and charges may be refiled. Our follow-up investigation will remain active and on-going. Charges against Hannah Gutierrez-Reed remain unchanged. No further statements will be made at this time,” the prosecutors said in a statement.
“We are pleased with the decision to dismiss the case against Alec Baldwin and we encourage a proper investigation into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident,” Baldwin’s attorneys Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro said in a statement obtained by IndieWire.
“The new special prosecutor team has taken a very diligent and thorough approach to the entire investigation, which we welcome and have always welcomed. They are seeking the truth and we are also. The truth about what happened will come out and the questions that we have long sought answers for will be answered. We fully expect at the end of this process that Hannah will also be exonerated,” Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys Jason Bowles and Todd Bullion said in a statement.
The news comes as filming on “Rust” has resumed in Montana as of today, with Baldwin still involved in the project. Baldwin also appeared to address the news today in an Instagram photo of him and his wife Hilaria, which he captioned, “I owe everything I have to this woman (and to you, Luke),” in reference to his attorney Nikas.
Baldwin had pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges, and back in February, charges against him were downgraded to only face a maximum of 18 months. Baldwin previously faced a charge that involved a firearm enhancement, which would have carried a maximum of five years prison time. But his attorneys argued that the DA and special prosecutor committed a “basic legal error” in charging the actor under said law, as the law did not take effect until seven months after the “Rust” shooting took place in October 2021.
Both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed were charged on January 31. David Halls, the film’s first assistant director, back in January accepted a plea deal for a misdemeanor charge that carried no jail time.
On Monday, prosecutors filed a list of the state’s witnesses for a preliminary hearing. Among the witnesses scheduled are “Rust” director Joel Souza, the film’s supplier of ammunition Seth Kenney, and crew member Lane Luper who had walked off the set the day the accident took place due to safety concerns. It’s unclear if the hearing will still take place as scheduled.
Baldwin has maintained throughout that he did not pull the trigger on the gun that discharged and that was later found to contain live ammunition, despite an FBI report that claimed doing so would be impossible.