Prosecutor labels armourer “sloppy” during ‘Rust’ manslaughter trial

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During the opening day of Rust armourer Hannah Gutierrez Reed’s manslaughter trial in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on February 22nd, a prosecutor claimed her “sloppy” behaviour led to the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

While Rust was being filmed in 2021, actor Alec Baldwin fired a live round which killed Hutchins. Gutierrez-Reed is now on trial for involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering. If she’s found guilty, the armourer could face a maximum of three years in prison.

Prosecutor Jason Lewis claimed during the first day of the trial that it was Gutierrez Reed’s “unprofessional” conduct that caused the death of Hutchins. Lewis alleges that she twice failed to check the ammunition in Baldwin’s gun before it was used.

He told the court in his opening statement: “The defendant treated the safety protocols as if they were optional rather than as if people’s lives counted on her doing her job correctly. By failing to make those vital safety checks, the defendant acted negligently and without due caution. The decision she made that day contributed to Ms. Hutchins’ death.”

In response, Gutierrez Reed’s defence lawyer, Jason Bowles, claimed that she his client was being scapegoated and the fault instead lies with Baldwin. Bowles claimed the actor “really controlled the set” and should never have fired the gun at Hutchins. Furthermore, he claimed Baldwin was untrained at performing a cross-draw.

The defence lawyer told the courtroom: “What they’re trying to do, and what you’re seeing in this courtroom today, is blame it all on Hannah, the 24-year-old. Why? Because she’s an easy target — the least powerful person on set.”

It was also noted that six other live rounds were also found on the film set, which Lewis accused Gutierrez Reed of supplying.

Bowles claimed the aim of the production was to “rush, get this done, get the money.” He claimed Gutierrez Reed was also working as a props assistant as a cost-cutting measure, which distracted her from focussing on her role as an armourer.

The trial of Gutierrez Reed is expected to last two weeks. Witnesses who are set to take to the stand include Rust’s director Joel Souza, who was injured in the shoulder by a live bullet. Meanwhile, Baldwin is also set to face trial this summer over manslaughter.

This is a developing story.

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