DA Steps Aside, Names New Special Prosecutors for ‘Rust’ Movie Shooting Cases – Crime Online

New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies has appointed new special prosecutors to handle the manslaughter case against actor Alec Baldwin and movie armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed after a judge told her earlier this week she could either name new attorneys or handle the case on her own, but not both.

Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed are the only people to face trial after former Special Prosecutor Andrea Reeb’s investigation of the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Baldwin’s “Rust” movie in 2021. Reeb, a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives, was earlier forced to step down because state law bars an elected legislator from also serving in a judicial capacity, as CrimeOnline previously reported.

Another member of the film crew, assistant director David Halls, was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor with no jail time. Reeb’s 500+ page investigation, however, failed to determine who was responsible for live ammunition in the gun Baldwin was handling during a rehearsal on set, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

Carmack-Altwies was also forced to drop a gun enhancement charge against the two defendants — which would have sent them to jail for five years if they are convicted — because the law allowing the enhancement was put into effect after the shooting. Without the gun enhancement, they face up to 18 months in jail.

After Reeb’s departure, Carmack-Altwies had planned to appoint a new special prosecutor and continue as co-counsel, the Associated Press reported. But Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys objected — Baldwin’s attorneys were not involved — and First Judicial Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer agreed, saying the district attorney had misread the law.

“Basically, what I’m ruling, Ms. Carmack-Altwies, is that you are going to use (the law) in the way I’ve interpreted it, which means that you may not co-counsel, or you stay the course and not use a special prosecutor and prosecute it on your own,” the judge said during a hearing on Monday.

On Wednesday, Carmack-Altwies — who had used previous rulings to take broad swipes at Baldwin and his team of attorneys, as CrimeOnline previously reported — announced that she had appointed two special prosecutors and would, according to her spokesperson, “continue her record of prosecuting drunken drivers, collaborating with local law enforcement, increasing diversion efforts and securing convictions against the most dangerous prolific offenders,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Kari Morrissey, a criminal and constitutional lawyer, and Jason Lewis, the former chief of staff for the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions, will handle the cases against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed going forward. The district attorney’s office said that the two have  “extensive experience and trial expertise.”

A preliminary hearing is expected to begin on May 3, during which a judge will determine if there is enough evidence to move forward to trial. Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed have both pleaded not guilty.

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[Featured image: L-R, Alec Baldwin/Charles Sykes/Invision/AP; Mary Carmack-Altwies/AP Photo/Andres Leighton; and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed/Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office]

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