Manslaughter case for ‘Rust’ movie armorer heads to trial

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, right, speaks with a sheriff’s deputy as a colleague stands next to her
Armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, right, speaks with a sheriff’s deputy as a colleague stands next to her on the set of “Rust,” shortly after the accidental fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins by Alec Baldwin on Oct. 21, 2021, in New Mexico.
(Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

“Rust” movie armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed has waived her right to a preliminary hearing to determine whether she should face criminal charges in the October 2021 death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the low-budget western.

The 42-year-old Hutchins — a rising star in the film industry — died after she was accidentally shot in the chest by actor Alec Baldwin during a rehearsal in a dusty wooden church on the movie location near Santa Fe, N.M. The show’s director, Joel Souza, was wounded but recovered.

Gutierrez Reed, 25, is the sole remaining defendant in New Mexico’s fraught prosecution of alleged wrongdoing on the movie set. She was the weapons handler and prop assistant for the movie, which has since completed filming in Montana.


Prosecutors dropped involuntary manslaughter charges against Baldwin earlier this year.

The actor has long maintained that he did not pull the trigger. The special prosecutors, who were appointed last spring, quickly shifted gears to focus on the felony charges against Gutierrez Reed, who has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors in the case that began when Alec Baldwin accidentally shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins nearly two years ago have argued the armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, is most culpable and should face felony charges.

July 19, 2023

Prosecutors had been preparing for a five-day hearing that was set to begin next week. The purpose of the hearing was to persuade the judge that sufficient evidence existed to show that Gutierrez Reed was criminally negligent. She has been charged with felony involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering.

New Mexico 1st Judicial Court Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer on Tuesday refused to grant Gutierrez’s petition to dismiss the charges, sending the case forward for next week’s planned evidence hearings.

Special Prosecutors Kari T. Morrissey and Jason J. Lewis earlier this week submitted a list of 40 potential witnesses, including FBI agents, sheriff’s deputies and several members of the crew of the ill-fated western to appear during the week-long hearing.

But the plans changed Friday.

“Hannah Gutierrez today waived her right to a preliminary hearing in State v. Hannah Gutierrez,” Barry Massey, spokesman for the New Mexico Administrative Office of the Courts, said in a statement. “Waiving the hearing allows the case to proceed toward trial.”

In the email exchange, armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed said she couldn’t simultaneously focus on two roles: “That’s when mistakes get made.”

Jan. 28, 2022

Defense attorneys seem resigned that prosecutors would have likely prevailed during the hearing, which would have moved the case toward a trial. Friday’s decision simply eliminates the intermediate step.


In June, the special prosecutors accused Gutierrez Reed of drinking and smoking marijuana during off-hours while the western was in production. They have alleged that she was probably hung over on the fatal day. Prosecutors also allege she gave a small bag of cocaine to a friend after the shooting, recognizing that her actions would draw scrutiny. The evidence tampering charge relates to that.

Gutierrez Reed’s attorney, Jason Bowles, has blasted the prosecution’s efforts, calling them unacceptable smears of his client. Bowles has said that prosecutors have no evidence of drug use.

The case has been dogged by various missteps by prosecutors and law enforcement.

Baldwin was charged in late January with involuntary manslaughter. In April, Morrissey and Lewis dropped the criminal charges against Baldwin, citing new information in the case. Sources have told The Times that prosecutors received evidence from Baldwin’s team that the gun had been modified before being delivered to the set, which could support Baldwin’s long-held contention that he did not pull the trigger.

Prosecutors are waiting for the results of a firearms test before evaluating whether to bring any charges against the prominent actor.

More than a year after “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot on the film’s set near Santa Fe, star-producer Alec Baldwin and the movie’s armorer are being charged in her death.

Jan. 19, 2023

The other initial defendant, David Halls, accepted a plea arrangement. The film industry veteran pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of negligent use of a deadly weapon and received a suspended six-month sentence of unsupervised probation.


Morrissey and Lewis took over the case in April after the two original prosecutors were forced to step down.