MEXICO: In the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on a movie set, prosecutors in New Mexico decided not to go for a five-year jail sentence for actor Alec Baldwin. Instead, they chose to press a much weaker charge against him.
If found guilty, Baldwin, who still faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter, may spend up to 18 months in jail. The judge agreed with Baldwin’s lawyers when they said that the gun enhancement, they wanted to add to the actor’s case was not in effect in the state when the actor was killed on set in October 2021.
According to Baldwin’s legal representatives, the application of the gun enhancement in the prosecution of Baldwin was unlawful since it went against a US constitutional clause that forbids amending an action’s legal consequences retroactively.
According to court documents, one of Baldwin’s attorneys, Luke Nikas, said, “The prosecutors committed a basic legal error.”
According to Santa Fe prosecutors, they chose to avoid legal issues with Baldwin’s legal team.
In a statement, state officials said, “To avoid further legal distractions by Mr. Baldwin and his lawyers, [prosecutors] have removed the firearm enhancement from the involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of Halyna Hutchins on the Rust film set.”
Joel Souza, another director for Rust, also sustained injuries. Baldwin has argued that the incident was a “tragic accident” and claims that he was informed that the rifle was safe because it was not loaded with live ammunition. Although authorities declared Hutchins’ death to be an accident, prosecutors charged Baldwin with involuntary manslaughter and placed armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed under investigation.
An enhancement for using a firearm while committing a crime was one of the involuntary manslaughter counts that the prosecution was pursuing. This enhancement carries a mandatory minimum jail term of five years. But, according to New Mexico state law, the upgrade was not effective until May 2022, or seven months after Hutchins’ passing.
If the jury found Baldwin or Gutierrez-Reed guilty, they would have had to decide if they also committed involuntary manslaughter with the enhancement, which carries harsher punishments.
The defence team for Baldwin is battling the prosecution’s tactics from various angles. They contend that Andrea Reeb’s status as a state legislator precludes her from exercising any prosecutorial authority and are opposed to her designation as the case’s special prosecutor.
David Halls, the assistant director of Rust, entered a no-contest plea to the charge of the negligent use of a deadly weapon. Halls was given a suspended sentence and a six-month probationary period.
Also Read: Alec Baldwin Accused of Committing Very Hazardous Acts on ‘Rust’ Set