‘Rust’ Prosecutors Accuse Film’s Armorer of ‘Likely’ Being Hungover While Loading the Gun

Prosecutors in the “Rust” case are accusing the film’s armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed of “likely” being hung over when she loaded the gun with the bullet that ultimately killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, something her lawyers have called “character assassination.”

While charges against “Rust” star Alec Baldwin were dismissed, Gutierrez-Reed remains charged with a count of involuntary manslaughter in the “Rust” case. And on Friday, June 9, prosecutors in New Mexico responded to her lawyer’s motion to dismiss those charges.

The special prosecutors in their response wrote off the motion as “laughable” but also revealed that they will have witness testimony that Gutierrez-Reed was drinking and smoking in the evenings leading up to the “Rust” shooting.

“Witnesses in the current case will testify that Defendant Gutierrez was drinking heavily and smoking marijuana in the evenings during the shooting of ‘Rust.’ It is likely that Defendant Gutierrez was hung over when she inserted a live bullet into a gun that she knew was going to be used at some point by an actor while filming a shooting scene with other actors and crew members,” special prosecutors Kari T. Morrissey and Jason J. Lewis said. “The crime of involuntary manslaughter was designed specifically for this type of circumstance. Defendant Gutierrez has a history of reckless conduct that has resulted in loss of human life and it is in the public interest that she finally be held accountable.”

In a statement to IndieWire in response, attorney Jason Bowles said, “The prosecution has so mishandled this case and the case is so weak that they are now resorting to character assassination tactics to further taint the jury pool. This investigation and prosecution has not been about seeking Justice; for them it’s been about finding a convenient scapegoat.”

Marijuana use became legal in New Mexico in June 2021 ahead of the “Rust” incident in October 2021, though some employers are permitted to forbid it.

A preliminary hearing for Gutierrez-Reed is scheduled between August 9-16, at which point a judge will determine if there’s probable cause for the case against Gutierrez-Reed to proceed. Gutierrez-Reed was charged on January 31.

The response from the special prosecutors also mentions that they’ll make a final decision about whether to bring any new charges against Baldwin within the next 60 days. The involuntary manslaughter charges brought against him were dropped back in April.

The “Rust” case has gone through some upheaval since Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed were first charged, including both the original special prosecutor and the state’s district attorney stepping down from the case, and with prosecutors needing to revise and downgrade the involuntary manslaughter charges brought against both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed. Meanwhile, filming resumed on “Rust” back on April 21 in Montana, with Baldwin returning to the starring role. Gutierrez-Reed was not involved in the restarted production.

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed on October 21, 2021 when a gun held by Baldwin and carrying a live round discharged, fatally wounding Hutchins and injuring the film’s director Joel Souza.

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