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‘Rust’ Armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed Found Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer employed on the fatal “Rust” set, has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Gutierrez-Reed was also charged with evidence tampering, but was found not guilty on that charge. The jury needed only a few hours of deliberation to reach their decisions. Following the verdict, Gutierrez-Reed was taken into custody; she faces up to 18 months in prison.

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The Gutierrez-Reed trial began on February 22. Prosecutor Jason Lewis argued that Gutierrez-Reed was “sloppy” in her duties as the armorer, twice failing to properly check the ammunition in the gun that was handed to actor Alec Baldwin to identify whether it contained dummy rounds rather than a live round that ultimately killed Hutchins. Hutchins was killed on set of “Rust” on October 21, 2021.

Prosecutors made the case that Gutierrez-Reed was unprofessional, and in pre-trial filings, prosecutors noted she was allegedly hungover while on the job and had been using marijuana, potentially impairing her work. Testimony heard throughout the trial included crew members who said Gutierrez-Reed was not as professional as other armorers they had worked with. Prosecutors also referred to an initial interview between the defendant and detectives in which Gutierrez-Reed said she checked the rounds she loaded into the gun “most of the time,” and that she had brought loose dummy rounds with her from a prior film set she worked on.

Her lawyer Todd Bowles in her defense pointed the finger at numerous other parties, saying that a series of events and mishaps all had to occur for a gun to discharge on set and kill Hutchins. Bowles said his client was being made to be a “scapegoat” and that the entire mentality on “Rust” was “rush, get this done, so we can get the money.”

“Blame it all on Hannah, a 24-year-old. Why? Because she’s an easy target. She’s the least powerful person on set,” Bowles said in his opening remarks.

Gutierrez-Reed’s defense claimed Baldwin was at fault, both as a producer on the film and as the person who pointed the gun at another individual and allegedly pulled the trigger (Baldwin has maintained he did not pull the trigger, but an FBI ballistics report claims that was impossible). The defense noted the fine issued against Rust Productions by OSHA, the largest in New Mexico history, for failure to maintain safe working conditions on set, and called upon testimony from an OSHA official who said Gutierrez-Reed was not given adequate time by management to safely check the ammunition. Bowles also pointed to supplier Seth Kenney and props master Sarah Zachry, alleging that potential evidence went missing the day of the shooting after a text and phone call between the two, but that law enforcement did not look to either of them for wrongdoing. Gutierrez-Reed did not take the stand to testify during the case.

Gutierrez-Reed’s trial precedes another involuntary manslaughter case involving “Rust,” this time against Alec Baldwin. The jury was shown numerous outtakes of Baldwin rehearsing and rushing the crew on set, with one witness testifying that Baldwin was using the gun to point and gesture in some instances and that Gutierrez-Reed should have intervened. That footage will likely be seen again when his trial kicks off July 9.

Baldwin was originally charged with involuntary manslaughter, but because of a series of errors from the New Mexico special prosecutors, saw his charges dropped before he was charged again early this year. He faces a maximum of 18 months in prison.

“Rust” resumed and completed filming in April 2023, with Baldwin as an executive producer.

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