‘Rust’ prosecutors seek further tests on gun handled by Alec Baldwin

The gun involved in the fatal shooting on the set of the movie “Rust,” starring Alec Baldwin. (Photo: Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office/NYTimes)
Prosecutors are seeking further testing on the gun that Alec Baldwin was handling on the “Rust” film set when it fired and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, as they work to decide whether to revive a criminal case against the actor.اضافة اعلان

Baldwin was initially charged with involuntary manslaughter, but prosecutors in New Mexico dismissed the case against him last month. They withdrew the charges after being presented with evidence suggesting that the gun Baldwin had been rehearsing with that day had been modified, which potentially made an unintentional discharge easier.

The old-fashioned revolver at the center of the case has already been examined by the FBI, but on Wednesday, the prosecutors, Kari T. Morrissey and Jason J. Lewis, sought court approval to have it tested by an outside ballistics expert. They wrote in court papers that they had learned during their investigation that the hammer of the gun may have been intentionally modified.

“The modification appears to be related to the notches on the internal portion of the hammer for full-cock, half-cock, and quarter cock positions,” the prosecutors wrote in court papers. “It appears that these notches may have been partially removed or ground down so that they are less prominent.”

The ballistics expert, Lucien Haag, who has worked as a consultant for prosecutors and defense lawyers, would also be asked to determine whether other firearms that had been on the set had also been modified “possibly for ease of use by actors,” the prosecutors wrote. Live and inert ammunition found at the scene, as well as powder residue left on Hutchins’ clothing, would be submitted for testing as well.

Baldwin has long denied responsibility for the fatal shooting of Hutchins in 2021, asserting that he had been told the gun did not contain live ammunition and that he had not pulled the trigger before it went off. He said that the gun fired after he had pulled its hammer back and let it go.

A lawyer for Baldwin did not immediately comment on the request for further testing.

The prosecutors who filed the charges against Baldwin had maintained that based on FBI testing of the gun, it could not have fired without the trigger having been depressed. But any modifications to the gun that would have made it easier to go off would complicate a prosecutor’s argument that Baldwin had behaved negligently on set.

The involuntary manslaughter charges against the movie’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, still stand. A lawyer representing her, Jason Bowles, has said she plans to plead not guilty. Bowles said Wednesday that he welcomed the continued investigation into the source of the live rounds that were found on the set and into the functionality of the firearm.

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