‘Rust’ armorer waives preliminary hearing

Aug. 4—Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed has waived her right to a preliminary hearing in the case charging her with voluntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence in connection with the fatal onset shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins south of Santa Fe in 2021.

The hearing — during which a judge would have determined whether there is probable cause to prosecutor the armorer — had been set to occur over six days beginning Wednesday. Her attorney Jason Bowles filed a motion waiving the hearing Friday.

The standard of proof required for a judge to make a finding of probable cause is low, Bowles said in a phone interview Friday, and after looking at the costs and benefits of the proceeding he determined “there is really no benefit to Hannah for a preliminary.”

“Other statutes in New Mexico will be more applicable to do what we are trying to do in terms of testing the strength of the government’s case on various counts,” he said.

The case has drawn international attention due to the involvement of actor and producer Alec Baldwin, who was holding the revolver when it went off during the filming of the Western movie, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza. Prosecutors dropped charges against Baldwin in June.

Gutierrez-Reed has agreed to undergo twice-monthly drug screening and refrain from possessing firearms, according to new conditions of release filed Thursday.

State District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer had previously exempted Gutierrez-Reed from the prohibition on firearms — a standard condition of release — over the objection of the state in February after Bowles argued she needed a firearm to protect herself because she has received numerous phone threats since the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office released investigative documents, including her phone number.

“The threats haven’t continued,” Bowles said. “Not saying it’s not possible still, but fortunately that has calmed down.”

Special prosecutor Kari Morrissey sought to add the substance abuse testing requirement last month after adding the tampering with evidence charge to the counts against Gutierrez-Reed, in connection with an allegation that she transferred a small bag of cocaine to an unidentified person after being interview by police following the shooting. Morrissey said Gutierrez Reed “has suffered from a significant substance abuse problem.”

Sommer denied the request at the time.

Gutierrez-Reed has since agreed to both conditions “to make sure she accommodates what the prosecutor and the courts wanted,” Bowles said.

Bowles said Friday he will conduct pretrial interviews of witnesses over the next few months. The state has identified 40 possible witnesses, and if it sticks with that number the interviews could take some time, he said.

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