Involuntary manslaughter charges against actor Alec Baldwin in the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the Rust set in October 2021 have been reduced by prosecutors in New Mexico. According to court documents filed on Friday, Baldwin still faces one count of involuntary manslaughter, a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in jail. But, prosecutors have removed a "firearm enhancement," a provision in the penal code that enhances jail sentences when firearms are used in the commission of a crime.
The judgement comes more than a week after the actor's legal team filed a motion to dismiss the enhancement charge, claiming that prosecutors made a "unconstitutional and legal error" by charging Mr. Baldwin under a legislation that did not exist at the time of the accident.
New Mexico's firearm enhancement law was amended in March 2022. In cases where a firearm was "discharged" in the commission of specified offences, the present version of the legislation asks for an additional five years in jail.
Nevertheless, Baldwin's lawyers pointed out that the Rust shooting occurred in 2021, almost six months before the rules went into effect. Previously, a three-year enhancement would have applied only when a gun was "brandished," which would have required prosecutors to prove an intent to threaten or injure.
Heather Brewer, a spokesperson for the New Mexico First District Attorney, told NPR on Monday that the decision to eliminate the weapon enhancement was taken to speed the case.
"To avoid future litigious distractions by Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys, the District Attorney and special prosecutor have removed the firearm enhancement to the involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of Halyna Hutchins on the "Rust" film set," Brewer said.
"The prosecution's aim is getting justice, not securing billable hours for big-city attorneys," she noted.
The accusations against the film's armourer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who faces the same involuntary manslaughter charge as Baldwin, have also been withdrawn.
Baldwin is scheduled to appear in court for the first time on Friday.
Prosecutors In New Mexico Have Reduced Alec Baldwin's Charges In The 'Rust' Shooting.
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