Alec Baldwin Officially Enters Plea in 'Rust' Shooting Charges

Alec Baldwin entered a not-guilty plea to involuntary manslaughter in the connection with the death of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. He also waived his right to appear in court on Friday. The film's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, is also facing an involuntary manslaughter charge and will make her first court appearance on Friday.

Baldwin was set to appear in court on Friday via Google Meet but instead chose to enter his not-guilty plea with a court filing, reports Variety. He is free without having to post bond. Gutierrez Reed's attorney said she will not waive her appearance and will be in court to enter her plea.

In late January, Santa Fe First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies and special prosecutor Andrea Reeb officially charged Baldwin and Guttierez-Reed with two counts of involuntary manslaughter each. On Monday, New Mexico prosecutors dropped the firearm enhancement to the charges that would have added five years of prison time to their potential sentences. The enhancement did not apply in this case since it took effect seven months after the shooting. If convicted, Baldwin now faces up to 18 months in prison.

The Santa Fe district attorney accused Baldwin of acting with "criminal negligence" when he fired a loaded weapon while rehearsing a scene for Rust on Oct. 21, 2021, at Bonanza Creek Ranch. Baldwin denied the allegations, insisting that he had no reason to believe anyone would hand him a loaded weapon on a film set.

"This decision distorts Halyna Hutchins' tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice," Baldwin's lawyer, Luke Nikas, said in a Jan. 19 statement after prosecutors announced plans to charge Baldwin and Guttierez-Reed. "Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the movie set. He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds. We will fight these charges, and we will win."

The next step in the case is a preliminary hearing within 60 days of the defendant pleading not guilty. Baldwin and Guttierez-Reed are expected to attend in person, and prosecutors will present evidence they hope will convince a judge there is enough to go to trial.

Meanwhile, Baldwin is supposedly going to resume work on Rust. Earlier this week, producers said the rest of the film will be shot at Yellowstone Film Ranch in Montana this spring. In October 2022, producers said they settled a civil lawsuit with Hutchins' widower, Matthew Hutchins, who will now serve as an executive producer. The movie was about halfway completed when production was halted after Hutchins' death. While Baldwin will still be involved, Gutierrez Reed is not as there will be no weapons used for the rest of the production.

At least two people who worked on Rust are included on the witness list, Jenson Ackles and director Joel Souza, who was injured in the shooting. Under the terms of his release, Baldwin can talk to potential witnesses about the film and business, but not the shooting. He can also talk about the case with civil lawsuit defendants if attorneys are present. He is also banned from drinking alcohol and using firearms.