US prosecutors formally drop charges against Alec Baldwin

The actor faced charges in relation to the fatal 2021 shooting of a cinematographer on the set of the movie Rust.

Actor Alec Baldwin
US actor and producer Alec Baldwin had denied responsibility for the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins [File: Seth Wenig/AP Photo]

New Mexico special prosecutors have dropped charges against actor Alec Baldwin in the shooting death of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, marking what legal experts said was a logical conclusion to a flawed prosecution.

The move on Friday followed new evidence about the gun Baldwin was holding when it fired the bullet that killed Hutchins during the movie’s filming, a person close to state prosecutors said.

The information further undermined the prosecution’s case after a series of legal fumbles, pushing them to dismiss charges in advance of a May 3 hearing where a judge was to decide whether there was sufficient evidence to try Baldwin and Rust armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed.

“The case is dismissed without prejudice and the investigation is active and ongoing,” prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis said in a filing.

A court official said a 2:30pm (20:30 GMT) court hearing would address the remaining charge against Gutierrez-Reed, who said she loaded the live bullet into the gun mistaking it for a dummy round.

The dismissal came after Baldwin’s lawyer Luke Nikas last week in Santa Fe presented evidence to the prosecution that the reproduction single-action long Colt .45 “Peacemaker” used by Baldwin had been modified with new parts since its manufacture by Italian gunmaker F.LLI Pietta.

The information compromised the prosecution’s argument the gun was in fully functioning order and could have fired only if Baldwin recklessly pulled the trigger, according to the person familiar with the case.

Special prosecutors said on Thursday they might refile charges against Baldwin once the new evidence had been examined, but most legal experts doubted it.

“This very weak case against Baldwin should never have been filed in the first place,” said Ambrosio Rodriguez, a former prosecutor with the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office in California.

“I don’t see how they could ever prove their case with this new evidence.”

Source: Reuters