Trial begins for ‘Rust’ armorer over deadly on-set shooting

SANTAFE   -  Jury selection began Thursday in the trial of the woman responsible for the guns on the set of the Alec Baldwin movie “Rust,” where a cinematographer was shot dead in 2021. Hannah Gutierrez has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of Halyna Hutchins, who died from her injuries after being hit by a live round fired from a gun Baldwin was holding. The director of the period Western, Joel Souza, was wounded in the incident. A trial in the western US state of New Mexico is expected to hear how as the film’s armorer, the 26-year-old Gutierrez was tasked with supplying firearms and ensuring their safe use on set. Prosecutors are expected to argue she was lackadaisical in her approach, allowing live rounds -- which should never even have been on set -- to be mixed in with blank ammunition. They are also expected to tell the jury how Gutierrez used cocaine and marijuana, and how she was hungover on the morning she loaded the live round into Baldwin’s Colt .45. Gutierrez also faces one charge of tampering with evidence, which relates to her alleged disposal of cocaine after her initial questioning by Santa Fe County Sheriff’s officers. Jury selection started Wednesday morning in Santa Fe, with Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer questioning the pool of potential jurors if they had seen media coverage of the case. Opening arguments are expected to be heard on Thursday in a trial that is slated to last for two weeks. If convicted of involuntary manslaughter, Gutierrez could face a prison sentence of up to 18 months. Her lawyers are expected to argue that Hutchins’ death was the result of a series of errors brought about by intense pressure to finish the film on time and under budget.

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