May 20, 2024

New Mexico prosecutors announced Tuesday that they will present a case against Alec Baldwin to a grand jury, saying that “additional facts have come to light” in the shooting death on the set of “Rust” two years ago.

In a statement, special prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis said they will bring the case to a grand jury within the next two months for consideration of criminal charges.

“After extensive investigation over the past several months, additional facts have come to light that we believe show Mr. Baldwin has criminal culpability in the death of Halyna Hutchins and the shooting of Joel Souza,” they said in the statement. “We believe the appropriate course of action is to permit a panel of New Mexico citizens to determine from here whether Mr. Baldwin should be held over for criminal trial.”

Baldwin’s attorney, Luke Nikas, called the decision “unfortunate” and said he would fight the case in court.

“It is unfortunate that a terrible tragedy has been turned into this misguided prosecution,” he said. “We will answer any charges in court.”

Hutchins, the cinematographer on “Rust,” was killed when Baldwin’s Colt .45 revolver fired during preparation for a scene at a Western ranch set near Santa Fe, N.M. Souza, the director, was also injured. Baldwin has denied pulling the trigger.

After more than a year of investigation, Baldwin was charged with involuntary manslaughter in January. But the charges were dropped in April on the eve of a preliminary hearing, after Baldwin’s defense lawyers raised doubts about whether the gun was functioning properly.

The special prosecutors have since sent the gun for further forensic testing. At one point, they stated in a filing that Baldwin would be charged again if it was determined that the gun was functional.

A report, made public in August, concluded the trigger must have been pulled in order for the weapon to be fired.

The film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez, also faces charges of involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering in the case. She is set to go on trial in February in Santa Fe, and faces up to three years in prison if convicted.

The case suffered through a series of missteps. The initial charges included a five-year sentence enhancement for use of a firearm. That enhancement was dropped when it emerged that the law was not on the books at the time of the shooting.

Andrea Reeb, the initial special prosecutor, resigned from the case after Baldwin’s lawyers argued that she could not serve as both a prosecutor and a state lawmaker. Mary Carmack-Altwies, the elected Santa Fe district attorney, then withdrew when a judge ruled she could not team with a special prosecutor to handle the case.

Carmack-Altwies had said that her office was too understaffed to handle the case without outside help. The D.A.’s investigator, Robert Shilling, also wrote an email blasting the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office for mishandling the investigation. That email was inadvertently sent to the defense.

The Colt .45 was also broken during FBI testing in 2022, prompting the defense to argue that the evidence had been spoiled.

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