American actor Alec Baldwin's manslaughter trial begins on Tuesday


Alec Baldwin’s manslaughter trial for the fatal 2021 shooting on the set of a Western film begins Tuesday, with the selection of a jury to determine if a “Rust” crew member’s death was his responsibility.

The Hollywood A-lister was pointing a pretend gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a scene rehearsal when it fired a live cartridge, killing her and injuring the film’s director.
Baldwin, 66, says he didn’t realize the gun was loaded and didn’t pull the trigger. Prosecutors allege that he acted irresponsibly on set and has constantly changed his story since the sad events of October 2021.

Baldwin’s lawyers attempted to get the case dismissed several times but were unsuccessful. On Monday, the actor attended the final pre-trial hearing, taking careful notes on a yellow pad that he kept in a Barnes & Noble tote bag.

Jury selection begins on Tuesday, with opening arguments scheduled for Wednesday, and the case in the southwestern state of New Mexico is likely to take about ten days.

Because of the “30 Rock” actor’s enormous reputation and the rarity of on-set deaths, the subject has sparked global interest while strongly polarizing opinion.

Sympathetic viewers see Baldwin as a victim who has been targeted by prosecutors in part because of his celebrity status and leftist appeal.

Others regard mortality as an easily avoidable consequence of a movie star’s alleged erratic and complacent behaviour.

“To watch Mr Baldwin’s behaviour on the set of ‘Rust’ is to witness a guy who has no control over his own emotions and has absolutely no consideration for how his behaviour affects people around him,” special prosecutor Kari Morrissey has stated.

If found guilty, Baldwin could face up to 18 months in prison. It is still being determined whether he intends to take the stand in his defence.

Hutchins died nearly three years ago, at a rehearsal in a little chapel on the Bonanza Creek Ranch, on a bright afternoon midway through the filming of “Rust.”

Baldwin was practising a scene where his character, an elderly bandit cornered in a church by two marshals, draws his Colt six-shooter.

The actor claims he was informed the gun was safe, Hutchins asked him to point the revolver in her direction, and he did not pull the trigger.

Live bullets are generally prohibited on movie sets, and Baldwin has stated that it is not his obligation as an actor to check.

The incident delayed the filming of “Rust,” which was completed on location in Montana last year.

Earlier this year, the film’s armourer was found guilty of manslaughter in the same courthouse and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Her trial highlighted arguments that the prosecution will certainly use against Baldwin.

At the time, armourer Hannah Gutierrez’s defence counsel said Baldwin “violated some of the most basic gun safety guidelines you can ever learn,” such as never aiming a gun at someone unless you intend to shoot it.

“Alec Baldwin’s behaviour and lack of gun safety inside that church on that day is something he’ll have to answer for,” Morrissey said.

“Not with you, not today. That will happen with another jury, on another day.”

On Monday, Baldwin, clad in a dark suit, striped tie, thick-rimmed glasses, and short hair, watched while lawyers resolved numerous pre-trial issues.

In a victory for the defence, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer decided that prosecutors cannot claim Baldwin’s added role as a producer on “Rust” renders him more guilty.

However, the case’s arrival in court is already a victory for prosecutors, who have successfully fought several attempts to dismiss it.

Baldwin’s lawyers said that damage to the gun caused by an FBI testing facility prevented the actor from receiving a fair trial.

The FBI determined that the gun could not have fired unless the trigger was pulled, a finding that the defence claims they were denied the opportunity to challenge.

The court was unconvinced and ordered the trial to continue.