The criminal case against Alec Baldwin is heating up with testy exchanges between prosecutors and the legal team defending him. Last week, Baldwin’s attorneys filed a motion claiming that emails and public statements unfairly criticize Baldwin’s attorneys and misstate his potential sentence, as well as the 1st Judicial District Attorney’s Office and its special prosecutor.
An inquiry about the motion was not answered immediately by the DA’s office. The dispute centers on the specific criminal charges Baldwin faces in the October 2021 death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins while the two were rehearsing a scene on the “Rust” movie set near Santa Fe. On the set, Baldwin was holding a gun and Hutchins was killed by it.
Baldwin was initially charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in Hutchins’ death by District Attorney Mary Carmack Altwies on Jan. 31. The most serious of those charges carried a mandatory five-year prison sentence.
Involuntary manslaughter charges against Baldwin have been downgraded by prosecutors last Monday, dropping the possibility of a mandatory five-year prison sentence. As a result of the dispute over charges, prosecutors and Baldwin’s legal team exchanged heated exchanges over the remaining alternative standard, which requires proof of negligence. It is punishable by 18 months in jail and $5,000 in fines under New Mexico law.
In a written statement issued the day the amended complaint was filed, the DA’s office said the decision to remove the firearm enhancement was made to avoid further litigious distractions for Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys. According to the statement, the prosecution’s priority is to secure justice, not billable hours for big-city lawyers.
On Feb. 10, Baldwin’s attorneys argued in a motion that prosecutors “committed a basic legal error” by charging him under a law that was not enacted until May 2022; two days later, on a Sunday, special prosecutor Andrea Reeb fired off an email to Baldwin’s attorneys saying prosecutors were “a tad confused on your motion on the firearm enhancement.”
The email Reeb sent to Baldwin’s attorneys, which Baldwin’s attorneys cited in their recent motion, suggested that the attorneys could face sanctions if they weren’t following proper procedure. Less than an hour later, Reeb sent another email saying she would look into the specific numbers and sections and “make sure we have it correct.” And then, about two hours later, Reeb sent another email to Baldwin’s attorneys acknowledging the original complaint was based on a law that had not been enacted at the time of the shooting and agreed to file a new criminal complaint.
According to Baldwin’s Feb. 20 motion, prosecutors “exaggerated the error” during national television interviews in January – including a Fox News interview on Jan. 21 – in which they claimed Baldwin faced a mandatory five-year prison sentence.
A state representative, Reeb is violating the state Constitution’s separation of powers provision by serving simultaneously as a legislator and prosecutor. Baldwin entered a plea of not guilty to involuntary manslaughter on Thursday and waived his first appearance, which had been scheduled for Friday.
On Friday, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the film’s armorer, appeared before Marlowe Sommer for her first hearing. Gutierrez-Reed did not enter a plea and was placed on conditions of release pending trial.
During the spring of this year, the producers of “Rust” are planning to complete filming at the Yellowstone Film Ranch in Montana.