Alec Baldwin trial begins over fatal Rust shooting

Almost three years after the fatal shooting on the movie set of Rust, prosecutors began to lay out their case against Alec Baldwin in a packed Santa Fe courtroom, painting a picture of an unsafe workplace on a tight budget with a lead actor who violated the “cardinal rules of firearm safety”.

Proceedings in the actor’s involuntary manslaughter trial kicked off on Wednesday with the prosecution and defense offering their opening statements. The courtroom was filled to capacity with dozens of media as well as Baldwin’s wife and brother, who sat just behind the actor.

The state said Baldwin acted in a reckless manner that led to the death of the cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was shot on the film’s set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, a popular filming location about 30 minutes outside the city, in October 2021.

The actor and co-producer on the western was rehearsing when he pointed a prop firearm at Hutchins and the weapon fired a single bullet, killing Hutchins and injuring the director, Joel Souza.

The evidence will show the gun was functional, prosecutor Erlinda Johnson said, despite Baldwin’s statements that it had malfunctioned. But Baldwin failed to do a safety check and repeatedly violated set safety rules with the weapon by leaving his finger on the hammer and trigger, and pointing it at people on set while filming, she argued.

“That gun the defendant had asked to be assigned worked perfectly fine, as it was designed,” Johnson said. “He pointed the gun at another human being, cocked the gun and pulled that trigger in reckless disregard for Ms Hutchins’ safety.”

The trial will focus extensively on the Colt .45 used in the shooting. Baldwin has long claimed that he did not fire the weapon. The prosecution contends that forensic testing on the gun shows the actor had pulled the trigger and that Baldwin was negligent in his hand.


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