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Alec Baldwin's manslaughter charges downgraded by prosecutors

The actor was charged with involuntary manslaughter for the shooting of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins

alec badlwin
Beatriz Colon
Beatriz Colon - New York
New York WriterNew York
20 February 2023
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Just one month after Santa Fe County prosecutors announced they would be charging Alec Baldwin with involuntary manslaughter for the fatal shooting of Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust, they have reassessed the initial charges.

They have decided to downgrade the involuntary manslaughter charges against the actor, which will significantly reduce possible prison time for him.

The tragic shooting took place on October 21, 2021. The It's Complicated lead was on set holding an old-fashioned revolver for a close-up while rehearsing for the western movie, when the gun discharged, killing the cinematographer, Halyna, 42, and wounding the film's director, Joel Souza, 49. 

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The film's armorer who was in charge of weapons on the set, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, was also charged with involuntary manslaughter.

In the month since the charges were announced, per The New York Times, Alec's lawyers argued that: "The Santa Fe County district attorney had incorrectly charged the actor under a version of a New Mexico firearm law that was passed months after the fatal shooting in October 2021."

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Had the star been convicted under that law, he would have received a minimum prison sentence of five years, as opposed to the maximum 18 months in prison he now faces.

Alec Baldwin with George Stephanopoulos© Photo: Getty Images

Alec previously maintained his innocence in an interview with George Stephanopoulos

In a statement Monday, Heather Brewer, a spokeswoman for the district attorney, Mary Carmack-Altwies, explained the decision was made in the hopes that they could "avoid further litigious distractions by Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys."

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When the charges were first revealed on January 19, which came over two months after the county sheriff's office released the findings of their investigation, Alec's attorney, Luke Nikas of Quinn Emanuel, released a statement to People Magazine, maintaining they would fight the decision.

Halyna Hutckins family© Photo: Getty Images

The late cinematographer's family reached a settlement with the actor in October of 2022

"This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins' tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice," he said, adding: "Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the movie set."

He concluded: "He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds. We will fight these charges, and we will win."

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