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Alec Baldwin seeks ‘speedy’ manslaughter trial for ‘Rust’ film death

By AFP - Jan 27,2024 - Last updated at Jan 27,2024

US actor Alec Baldwin, who has been charged with manslaughter over the deadly shooting on the set of his film, asked a New Mexico judge for a speedy trial (AFP photo)

LOS ANGELES — US actor Alec Baldwin, who has been charged with manslaughter over the deadly shooting on the set of his film, asked a New Mexico judge for a “speedy trial”.

Baldwin, a producer and actor on the film, was charged again on Friday for his role in the 2021 death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of his movie “Rust”.

He was holding a Colt .45 during rehearsals for the low-budget Western in New Mexico when it discharged a live round, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

Baldwin has repeatedly denied responsibility for the shooting, insisting he did not pull the trigger on the gun, which in any case should have been loaded with a non-lethal blank.

The charges filed on Friday are the latest attempt to hold someone to account for the deadly episode, which sent shockwaves through Hollywood and led to calls for a tightening of the rules around firearms on movie sets.

The court had required Baldwin to appear for an initial hearing virtually or in person by February 1, according to court documents seen by AFP.

Baldwin’s defence Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro on Wednesday filed a request for a quick trial in order to “minimise public vilification and suspicion and to avoid the hazards of proving his innocence that often arise after a lengthy delay in prosecution”.

Initial manslaughter charges against 65-year-old Baldwin were dropped in April last year, due to what prosecutors called “new facts” which demanded “further investigation and forensic analysis” and lead to the convening of the grand jury that handed down Friday’s indictment.

Baldwin reportedly faces up to 18 months in jail if convicted.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the film’s armourer — the person responsible for supplying and maintaining weapons — is set to go on trial next month on charges of involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence.

Dave Halls, the film’s safety coordinator and assistant director who handed Baldwin the loaded gun, agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors and was sentenced to six months’ probation.

Filming of “Rust” was halted by the tragedy, but resumed last year.

The cinematographer’s widower, Matthew Hutchins, who has already settled a wrongful death suit with “Rust” producers, served as an executive producer on the project.

Director Souza also returned, saying at the time that completing the movie would be “bittersweet” but that the cast and crew “are committed to completing what Halyna and I started”.

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