Alec Baldwin will once again miss a criminal hearing in the Rust shooting that killed cinematographer Halina Hutchins in October 2021
Just hours before a rescheduled virtual hearing before New Mexico Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer with co-defendant and former Rust gunman Hannah Gutierrez-Reid, the actor requested and was granted a waiver.
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“I understand that I am charged with the following offense or offenses under the law of the state of New Mexico: manslaughter (section 30-2-3(B), NMSA 1978) in two alternatives,” Baldwin said in a filing Thursday in Santa Fe County. “I understand that I have the right to appear in court in person at any stage of the criminal proceedings,” he added. “Having read and understood the above, I am asking the Court to permit me to waive my personal appearance in court for the following proceedings: All Status Conferences.”
Judge Sommer quickly granted the request — which likely had as much to do with Baldwin and his New York-based attorneys, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, trying to blackout media attention on the case as with the content of the session itself.
Still, for a hearing originally scheduled for March 8, the process is very similar to when Baldwin, 64, formally entered a not guilty plea on February 23 and waived his right to appear virtually at the first high-profile hearing. issue of February 24. Reid did not waive his right to appear and was present on screen with his attorney, Jason Bowles, the judge and prosecutor Mary Carmack-Althuis at that February 24 gathering.
Facing up to 18 months behind bars and various fines like Baldwin if convicted, Reid, 25, has yet to enter a formal plea. Reid is expected to attend today’s remote hearing.
With the public release of an FBI-assisted investigation by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office last November, Baldwin and gunman Reed were formally charged by prosecutors with two counts of manslaughter on Jan. 31 for the Oct. 21, 2021, killing of Hutchins in Bonanza Creek. A ranch. Rust director Joel Souza was also injured by live ammunition that came off the 1880 prop gun that star/producer Baldwin was holding.
At the time, those charges included an enhancement that comes with a mandatory five-year prison sentence if Baldwin and/or Reed are convicted. Under protest and claims by the defendants’ lawyers that the charge was “unconstitutional,” a somewhat red-faced prosecutor dropped the charge late last month. As resurrected Rust promises to go to trial soon in Montana, Baldwin and his team are also trying to get special prosecutor Andrea Rieb to dismiss the case because of her dual role as a recently elected GOP legislator in New Mexico.
The prosecution pushed back, insisting that Reed, an experienced prosecutor, could handle both gigs and had no conflict of interest.
With or without Baldwin, the afternoon status hearing will likely have Judge Sommer and the various attorneys trying to decide when to discuss the special counsel showdown. They can also put a preliminary hearing date on the calendar for the next few months.
With a trial pending in theory, the commitments of the lawyers involved, the prosecution and perhaps even the judge herself will determine whether any of this happens sooner rather than later – bet on the latter.
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