Alec Baldwin scored another victory in the Rust as special prosecutor Andrea Reeb announced Tuesday that she is stepping down. The move comes a month after the actor’s legal team filed a motion asking a judge to fire her, claiming her status as a Republican lawmaker in the New Mexico House of Representatives is “unconstitutional.” Baldwin, who faces two counts of manslaughter in the death of film cameraman Halina Hutchins, has pleaded not guilty.
“After much thought, I made the difficult decision to step down as a special prosecutor in Rust case. My priority in this case — and in every case I’ve prosecuted in my 25-year career — has been justice for the victim,” the New Mexico First District Attorney’s office told Yahoo Entertainment. “However, it has become clear that most -the best way I can ensure justice in this case is to recuse myself so the prosecution can focus on the evidence and facts that clearly show a complete disregard for basic safety protocols that led to the death of Halina Hutchins. I will not allow questions about my work as a legislator and prosecutor to cloud the real issue.”
The documents have been submitted to the court and for now the prosecutors are not commenting further. Yahoo reached out to Baldwin’s attorney, but did not immediately hear back.
Hutchins was killed when the gun Baldwin was holding discharged during rehearsals. He has repeatedly said he did not pull the trigger. This is going to be a big argument at trial…assuming the case goes there. The defense and prosecution publicly clashed last week after a hearing on Thursday. One of Baldwin’s attorneys told the court that the firearm in question “was destroyed by the state.”
Heather Brewer, a spokeswoman for New Mexico’s first district attorney, later denied that to the media and said the gun was “in evidence and available for the defense to review.”
“The defense’s unexpected statement at today’s status hearing that the gun was destroyed by the state may be a reference to a statement in the FBI’s July 2022 firearms testing report that said there was damage to the internal components of the gun during FBI functionality testing However, the gun still exists and can be used as evidence,” Brewer added.
Last month, prosecutors dropped one of the manslaughter charges against Baldwin, which included a firearm enhancement. It carries a maximum sentence of five years behind bars if convicted. It was the most serious exit he faced.
Baldwin’s lawyers argued that prosecutors committed an “unconstitutional and legal error” by charging 30 Rock star “under a statute which did not exist under the state of the accident.” The law in question went into effect in March 2022, almost six months away after Hutchins was killed. The same charge was brought against Rust gunsmith, Hannah Gutierrez-Reid. Legal experts widely condemned the prosecutors’ initial move.
“To avoid further judicial distractions from Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys, the district attorney and special prosecutor dropped the firearm enhancement to the manslaughter charges in the death of Halina Hutchins on Rust set,” Brewer explained of the decision. “The prosecution’s priority is to get justice, not to get billable hours for big-city lawyers.”
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reid each face one count of manslaughter, a fourth-degree felony that carries an 18-month prison sentence.
Rust will resume production this spring — but not in New Mexico. Rust Movie Productions announced that the film will be shot at the Yellowstone Film Ranch in Montana. Baldwin will return along with director Joel Souza, who was injured in the 2021 accident, plus a mix of old and new crew.