Guernsey Press

Baldwin co-defendant gets six months probation on gun charge

Safety co-ordinator and assistant director David Halls also must pay a 500-dollar fine and complete a gun-safety course.

Last updated

A co-defendant in the case against actor Alec Baldwin in the fatal 2021 shooting of a cinematographer on a movie set in New Mexico was convicted on Friday of unsafe handling of a firearm and sentenced to six months of probation.

Safety coordinator and assistant director David Halls also must pay a 500 dollar fine, complete a gun-safety course and 24 hours of community service after agreeing to the conviction related to the death of Halyna Hutchins on the set of the Western movie Rust.

Under the plea agreement, Halls agreed to testify truthfully at any upcoming hearings or trials. That includes criminal proceedings against Baldwin and movie armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who have pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter in Ms Hutchins’ death.

Halls appeared briefly by video to waive his right to challenge the negligence charge, as state District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer approved terms of a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Defence attorney Lisa Torraco urged the court to not impose a prison sentence — the maximum possible penalty was six months behind bars — noting that Halls was “extremely traumatised and “rattled” with guilt.

Ms Hutchins died shortly after she was shot on October 21, 2021, during rehearsals on a film-set ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe.

Baldwin was pointing a pistol at Ms Hutchins when the weapon went off; a single live round killed her and wounded director Joel Souza.

If convicted of involuntary manslaughter, Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed could face a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and fines.

Roundabout Theatre Company’s 2023 Gala
Alec Baldwin (Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

“When Ms Gutierrez-Reed brought the firearm … on set into the church, he did check the firearm,” she said of Halls. ”He wouldn’t have even thought that there was a live round in that, in that gun. … And he, like many others, is extremely traumatised.”

But prosecutor Kari Morrissey said Halls, a veteran filmmaker of more than 30 years, failed in his duty as the last line of defence for firearms safety, and that the fatal shooting took place after two earlier weapons misfires on set.

“Mr Halls did not check every round that was in the gun to confirm that it was a dummy round and not a live round,” she said. “He then handed the gun to Mr Baldwin and Mr Baldwin began to practise his cross draw. And during that action of practising the cross draw, the gun went off. And obviously Mrs Hutchins was struck by the bullet and was killed. That is the factual basis for Mr Halls taking the no contest plea to the unsafe handling of a deadly weapon.”

In separate regulatory proceedings, workplace safety authorities have asserted Halls shared responsibility for identifying and correcting any hazardous conditions related to firearms safety in the movie’s production.

A weeks-long preliminary hearing in May will decide whether evidence against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed is sufficient to proceed to trial.

In her sentencing, Judge Marlowe Sommer confirmed with Halls that he would “testify truthfully in all hearings, trials, or settings involving any and all defendants and co-defendants in this matter”. Prosecutors can reopen the case if Halls violates the terms of the plea agreement.

Santa Fe’s district attorney this week appointed two special prosecutors, Morrissey and Jason Lewis.

The original special prosecutor, Andrea Reeb, resigned following missteps in the initial filing of charges against Baldwin and objections that her role as a state legislator created conflicting responsibilities.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.