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15 Jul 2024 16:47
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  •   Home > News > International

    Jurors selected for Alec Baldwin's trial over shooting of Halyna Hutchins on Rust set

    Getting chosen for the trial of a major Hollywood star is unusual even in Los Angeles, but it is essentially unheard of in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where Alec Baldwin will face trial over the shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on a film set.

    Five men and 11 women, making up 12 jurors and four alternates, will decide the fate of Alec Baldwin after being selected for jury duty by Santa Fe County special prosecutors and the actor's team of defence attorneys.

    Judge Mary Marlowe Summer swore them in, telling them to avoid news about the case.

    They will report to the court on Wednesday, local time.

    Getting chosen for the trial of a major Hollywood star is unusual even in Los Angeles, but it is essentially unheard of in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where Mr Baldwin's trial is taking place.

    The actor and his wife Hilaria Baldwin were among those watching in the courtroom when 70 prospective jurors were questioned on Tuesday about numerous issues including their knowledge of the case and attitudes toward gun experts.

    Mr Baldwin's brother actor Stephen Baldwin (The Usual Suspects) was also seated in the back of the courtroom.

    The jury will decide whether actor Alec Baldwin, 66, committed a felony while on the set of the Western film Rust at Bonanza Creek Ranch, about 29 kilometres from where the trial is being held.

    In October 2021, Mr Baldwin was pointing a revolver at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins as she set up a camera shot inside a movie-set church, when the gun went off, killing her and injuring director Joel Souza.

    In an interview with ABC America in December 2021, Mr Baldwin told George Stephanopoulos he did not pull the trigger.

    The revolver, a symbol of the American Wild West

    Legal analysts and firearms specialists initially expected Mr Baldwin's case to be focused on whether he should have inspected the gun after being told it was "cold", which is an industry term meaning a gun is empty or contains inert, dummy rounds.

    But by saying he pulled back the hammer, not the trigger, Mr Baldwin sent prosecutors and defence lawyers down the road of forensic firearms testing.

    The gun in question is a symbol of the American Wild West, a Colt .45 Peacemaker revolver.

    Mr Baldwin said he cocked the reproduction 1873 Single Action Army pistol before it fired a live round.

    Santa Fe police tested Mr Baldwin's claims, with an FBI examination finding the gun worked normally and would not fire a round without the trigger being pulled.

    State prosecutors filed charges after that, alleging Mr Baldwin was lying about not pulling the trigger.

    Mr Baldwin's legal team said last year that the Italian-made Pietta gun's full-cock notch had been filed down, making it easier to fire, allowing a mechanical failure or "accidental discharge" without the trigger being pulled.

    They provided photographic evidence of the filed-down revolver.

    Convinced the gun was modified, prosecutors dropped charges last year, only for the grand jury to reinstate them in January after an independent firearms expert confirmed the findings of the FBI examination.

    The FBI destroyed the gun during testing, with the actor's lawyers saying they were left with no way to prove it was modified.

    Favourable ruling this week for Baldwin

    Earlier this week, the judge in the case ruled Mr Baldwin's role as a producer on Rust could not be linked to Hutchins' death.

    Prosecutors had argued he was the de facto boss on the set and responsible for overall firearm safety.

    Armourer Hannah Gutierres was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in March for mistakenly loading a live round into Mr Baldwin's gun.

    She received the maximum 18-month sentence.

    First assistant director Dave Halls accepted blame in a plea deal, acknowledging he did not check the rounds in the gun. He was given a six-month suspended sentence after being convicted on a misdemeanour charge.

    Mr Baldwin has been a major Hollywood figure for 35 years, starring in 30 Rock and The Hunt for Red October.

    Hutchins' death was the first on-set shooting fatality in Hollywood in three decades and momentarily led to calls by some for an end to the widespread use of real firearms on film sets.

    Hutchins was considered a rising star in film photography. She was 42.

    The trail is expected to last until July 19.



    © 2024 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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