Experts question prosecutors’ strategy against weapons expert in Alec Baldwin case

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (AP) — More than a year and a half after Alec Baldwin shot and killed a cinematographer while rehearsing a scene on a set in New Mexico, prosecutors have yet to solved the biggest mystery of the tragic case: how did the live bullets get to the set?

Prosecutors said in their latest court filing that they had evidence to support the theory that weapons expert Hannah Gutierrez-Reed may be responsible for introducing the cartridges. But they didn’t provide any specifics, and barring further evidence, they’re now basing part of their case against her on the idea that a night of drinking and marijuana consumption left her incapable of the necessary judgment. to ensure the safety of the platform.

Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyers argue that prosecutors use defamation, and some legal experts doubt that is a winning strategy for prosecutors.

Several lawyers who are not involved in the case but who have followed it closely said on Wednesday that the prosecution’s statements in response to a defense motion last month to dismiss his manslaughter charge are vague and would be difficult to prove.

“When you think about how they’ve been doing this investigation from the start, it’s almost in line with what they’ve been doing before. They need to be more specific about this allegation, because it’s pretty serious. Throwing it out there doesn’t look so good,” said Miguel Custodio, a Los Angeles personal injury attorney.

Prosecutors said they have witnesses who will testify that Gutierrez-Reed drank and smoked marijuana in the evenings while filming “Rust.” However, the weapons expert was never tested and it is unclear what evidence prosecutors might present to claim that she may have been hungover when she loaded a live round into the revolver that the actor used.

John Day, a Santa Fe-based criminal defense attorney, noted that prosecutors did not say in the filing that Gutierrez-Reed was intoxicated, but instead used the colloquial term “hangover.” , which could mean many things.

“It’s another weird development, but it still doesn’t address – and they said they don’t know – how the live bullets got to the set,” Day said. “And they didn’t say anything more specifically about her involvement except that she was the armourer.”

A preliminary hearing for Gutierrez-Reed is scheduled for August. A judge is expected to then decide if there is probable cause for the prosecution to move forward.

In their filing, prosecutors said they expected to decide within the next 60 days whether to reload Baldwin, based on the results of an analysis of the weapon.

The manslaughter charge facing Baldwin, who was also the film’s producer, was dismissed in April, with prosecutors citing new evidence and the need for more time to investigate.

Baldwin was pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during an on-set rehearsal in October 2021 when it went off, killing her and injuring director Joel Souza.

Ted Spaulding, an Atlanta attorney who is also not involved in the case, said that while it would be easier to argue that active impairment leads to neglect, prosecutors can still argue that drinking of alcohol and drugs – and hangovers – probably lead to neglect.

“It will depend on whether or not they have credible evidence that impaired judgment caused the injury and that the impairment is related to drug and alcohol use,” Spaulding said. “We see cases all the time where someone has marijuana particles in their system and claims it contributed to a wreck or injury, but since Gutierrez-Reed was not tested immediately after the shooting, they have no evidence that the marijuana was in his system, aside from witness statements.

Custodio said the prosecution’s insinuation that Gutierrez-Reed was hungover could work in the defense’s favor.

“It’s pretty reasonable for the defense to say ‘you’re just raising this now, which continues to show this pattern of negligence,'” he said. wood” sound like a very tenuous assumption.”

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