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Jury selection underway in Alec Baldwin 'Rust' manslaughter trial

The actor faces up to 18 months behind bars if convicted of involuntary manslaughter for the 2021 shooting on the "Rust" movie set that killed one person and injured another.
Alec Baldwin
Posted at 8:33 AM, Jul 09, 2024

Actor Alec Baldwin arrived at a Santa Fe courthouse Tuesday as jury selection got underway in his manslaughter trial.

The case stems from the 2021 shooting on the movie set of "Rust," in which Baldwin is accused of firing a live round that fatally struck the film’s director of photography, Halyna Hutchins, and injured director/writer Joel Souza.

The trial could have significant consequences for Baldwin, who faces the possibility of up to 18 months in prison if convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Court TV crime and justice correspondent Matt Johnson was in the courtroom Tuesday as a group of nearly 80 potential jurors were questioned over what they know about the case and whether they can remain fair and impartial. Johnson told Scripps News they hope to have a jury of 12 seated by the end of the day, with opening statements in the trial expected to begin Wednesday morning.

RELATED STORY | 'Rust' armorer sentenced to 18 months for fatal shooting on movie set

In a pretrial hearing Monday, Baldwin secured a major win. The judge ruled that his producer role in the film won't be considered during the trial, marking a major setback for prosecutors because that angle was a key part of their strategy. Video evidence will also be limited in the trial, with the judge ruling that footage unrelated to Baldwin's handling of weapons on set cannot be shown.

Prosecutors argue Baldwin disregarded established protocols, including inadequate firearm training, and allowed unsafe conditions on set, ultimately leading to the tragic outcome. They contend Baldwin was negligent in handling the firearm, contradicting his claim that the gun discharged without him pulling the trigger.

RELATED STORY | Alec Baldwin faces new lawsuit for ‘Rust’ shooting from victim’s family

In response, Baldwin’s defense asserts that safety on set rested with professionals like armorer Hannah Gutierrez and the assistant director, David Halls, who had been entrusted with ensuring the firearms were safe and properly managed. In a cross-complaint filed by Baldwin’s defense, they argue that neither Baldwin nor others present were aware that live ammunition had been loaded into the gun, believing it to be safe for use.

As the legal proceedings commence, all eyes are on Baldwin and the courtroom drama that will unfold, seeking answers and accountability for the tragic events that have profoundly impacted all involved in the production of “Rust.”