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Judge denies motion to dismiss indictment against Alec Baldwin in 'Rust' shooting case

Alec Baldwin attends the Roundabout Theatre Company's annual gala at the Ziegfeld Ballroom on Monday, March 6, 2023, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP) Alec Baldwin attends the Roundabout Theatre Company's annual gala at the Ziegfeld Ballroom on Monday, March 6, 2023, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
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A judge in New Mexico denied Alec Baldwin’s motion to dismiss the involuntary manslaughter indictment against him in the “Rust” fatal shooting case, connected to the 2021 death of the film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins. Baldwin’s attorneys had accused prosecutors of misconduct during the grand jury process and sought to have the case dismissed.

In January, Baldwin pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the shooting. Hutchins was fatally shot and director Joel Souza was injured after a gun Baldwin was holding discharged a live round during a scene rehearsal on the New Mexico set of the western movie. It was the second time the actor pleaded not guilty to charges related to the shooting.

Involuntary manslaughter charges were dropped against Baldwin in 2023, with prosecutors saying in a statement at the time that they could not “proceed under the current time constraints and on the facts and evidence turned over by law enforcement in its existing form” due to “new facts” in the case.

He was charged for a second time and indicted in January.

Baldwin’s lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the indictment in March. They accused prosecutors of engaging in misconduct and said prosecutors “publicly dragged Baldwin through the cesspool created by their improprieties – without any regard for the fact that serious criminal charges have been hanging over his head for two and a half years.”

Baldwin’s lawyers claimed the prosecution presented false and inaccurate testimony to the grand jury, withheld exculpatory evidence from the grand jury, and gave them improper and prejudicial instructions.

In response to Baldwin’s team’s March motion to dismiss the indictment, special prosecutors in New Mexico defended their case, saying Baldwin’s behaviour on the “Rust” movie set contributed to “safety compromises” that led to the fatal shooting.

In the order to deny Baldwin’s motion to dismiss, the judge said despite the defense’s claims,there was no prosecutorial bad faith, as Baldwin’s legal team had claimed, and proper procedures were followed in the grand jury process.

In the ruling, the judge said “after review of transcripts from the January 18, 2024 and January 19, 2024 grand jury presentations, the Court does not find that the ‘prosecuting attorney assisting the grand jury’ engaged in ‘intentional misconduct’ reflecting ‘dishonesty of belief, purpose, or motive’ in the course of the attorney’s ‘presentation of evidence to the grand jury.’”

The film’s armourer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who was responsible for firearm safety and storage on the movie’s set, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in March. She was sentenced in April to 18 months in prison and is appealing.

In a short statement to CNN following a judge’s refusal to dismiss charges against Baldwin, Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro from the actor’s legal team said: “We look forward to our day in court.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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