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Rust shooting charges against Alec Baldwin downgraded by US prosecutors

(The AEGIS Alliance) – New Mexico prosecutors have given up their pursuit of a five-year jail term for Alec Baldwin following the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on a movie set. Instead, they are now focusing on a reduced charge of involuntary manslaughter, which could lead to a maximum prison sentence of 18 months if Baldwin is found guilty.

This change in strategy was prompted by Baldwin’s legal team, who claimed that the firearms enhancement applied to the case was not legal under state law at the time of the incident. The enhancement would have required a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison for Baldwin if he were convicted.

Baldwin’s attorneys argued that the application of the firearms enhancement was unconstitutional, as it violated the US Constitution’s provision against retroactive changes in legal penalties. Santa Fe prosecutors chose to drop the firearms enhancement in order to avoid further legal battles with Baldwin’s legal team. They stated that their priority was to seek justice for Hutchins’ death rather than to engage in disputes with high-profile lawyers.

Hutchins died during a rehearsal for the movie Rust, which was being filmed on a ranch near Santa Fe. Baldwin was holding a pistol in her direction when it went off, fatally injuring her. While the incident was deemed to be accidental by officials, Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed were charged with involuntary manslaughter.

The involuntary manslaughter charge initially included an enhancement that applied to firing a gun while committing a felony. However, this enhancement did not take effect under New Mexico state law until seven months after Hutchins’ death. If Baldwin or Gutierrez-Reed are found guilty, the jury would decide whether they should face involuntary manslaughter charges with the enhancement, which would lead to a longer sentence.

Baldwin’s legal team is pushing back against prosecutors’ strategies, including the appointment of a special prosecutor in the case. Meanwhile, David Halls, Rust’s assistant director, received a suspended sentence and six months probation after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of the negligent use of a deadly weapon.

Jeffrey Childers – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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