Alec Baldwin's 'Rust' trial will hear opening statements after having selected the jury
Credits: Frederic J. Brown / AFP

Alec Baldwin's 'Rust' trial will hear opening statements after having selected the jury

Alec Baldwin's long-awaited trial for involuntary manslaughter over a fatal shooting on the set of Western movie "Rust" will hear opening statements at a New Mexico courthouse on Wednesday.

In October 2021, the Hollywood actor was rehearsing a scene when a gun he was handling fired a live round, fatally striking cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding the movie's director.

Baldwin, 66, maintains that he was unaware the gun was loaded and did not pull the trigger. However, special prosecutor Kari Morrissey has already secured the conviction and sentencing of the film's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez, to 18 months in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

Morrissey is now setting her sights on Baldwin, who could face the same prison term if found guilty. Under intense media scrutiny, the prosecution will argue that Baldwin violated basic gun safety rules and acted recklessly on set, despite his claims of innocence.

Baldwin's celebrity lawyer, Alex Spiro, has been actively involved in the jury selection process, emphasizing that the jurors' opinions of Baldwin's acting career and public persona should not influence their verdicts. The defense is expected to portray Baldwin as a victim who was unaware of the gun's loaded status and did not pull the trigger.

The judge has ruled that evidence or arguments related to Baldwin's additional role as a producer on "Rust" will not be admissible. The trial will now move forward, with a jury of 11 women and 5 men, including alternates, tasked with determining whether Baldwin should face prison time for the tragic incident.

- Victim -

Hutchins -- a talented 42-year-old cinematographer originally from Ukraine, who grew up on a Soviet military base in the Arctic Circle -- was killed in October 2021.

The fatal accident occurred during a rehearsal scene in a small chapel on the Bonanza Creek Ranch, where the film "Rust" was being shot. The incident took place on a sunny afternoon, midway through the production.

In the scene, Alec Baldwin's character, an aging outlaw, was being cornered in the church by two marshals. Baldwin was practicing drawing his Colt six-shooter revolver when the gun misfired.

According to Baldwin, he was told the gun was safe and was directed by cinematographer Halyna Hutchins to aim the revolver in her direction. However, the gun fired a live round, fatally striking Hutchins and wounding the film's director.

It is important to note that the presence of live ammunition on movie sets is strictly prohibited. This tragic incident has raised significant questions about firearm safety protocols and procedures on film productions.

- Witnesses -

Following Wednesday's opening arguments, the jury will hear testimony from witnesses expected to include Joel Souza, the "Rust" director who was wounded in the shooting.

Other possible witnesses include David Halls -- the film's first assistant director, who pled guilty to negligence in a deal that ensured he avoided prison time -- and prop firearms supplier Seth Kenney.

It is not yet known if Baldwin plans to take the stand in his defense.

The entire trial is scheduled to conclude Friday of next week, with jury deliberations to follow.

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