New Mexico DA follows judge’s order to step down in Alec Baldwin’s Rust shooting case

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The New Mexico district attorney overseeing the Rust shooting case involving Alec Baldwin said she would follow a judge’s order to step down as a prosecutor.

Baldwin and the movie’s armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed have pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter in the 2021 death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who died after being hit with a live round fired from a prop gun held by Baldwin.

First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies confirmed she was stepping aside from the case Wednesday (29 March) after Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer on Monday said the district attorney should not serve as both co-prosecutor and special prosecutor.

In a statement from her office (via Reuters), Carmack-Altwies named New Mexico attorneys Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis to serve as the new special prosecutors in the case.

Baldwin’s attorney had previously called for Carmack-Altwies to be disqualified from the case, claiming as she was too distracted by her role as a state legislator.

The original special prosecutor, Andrea Reeb, resigned earlier in the wake of missteps in the filing of initial charges against Baldwin and objections that Reeb’s role as a state legislator created conflicting responsibilities.

This aerial photo shows the movie set of ‘Rust’ at Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
This aerial photo shows the movie set of ‘Rust’ at Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Carmack-Altwies subsequently had been preparing to appoint a new special prosecutor and also guide the complex case as co-counsel.

Hutchins died shortly after being wounded on 21 October 2021, during rehearsals for the Western film at a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe.

A defense attorney for Gutierrez-Reed objected to Carmack-Altwies’s earlier plans to serve as co-counsel, arguing it would be illegal under New Mexico law and fundamentally unfair to a 25-year-old defendant with limited financial resources.

Carmack-Altwies’s spokesperson Heather Brewer said said the appointment of Morrisey and Lewis, with their “extensive experience and trial expertise, will allow the state to pursue justice for Halyna Hutchins and ensure that in New Mexico everyone is held accountable under the law”.

A weekslong preliminary hearing in May will decide whether evidence against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed is sufficient to proceed to trial.

Additional reporting from The Associated Press