Less than a week after being hit with involuntary manslaughter charges again the fatal Rust on-set shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in late 2021, Alec Baldwin’s first New Mexico court date has been set for next month.
Looking at 18 months to maybe three years behind bars based on the laws of the Land of Enchantment, the Mission Impossible actor has been “ordered to appear before Judge T. Glenn Ellington, on-February 1, 2024, at 11 am” local time (read the court summons to Alec Baldwin here).
A summons that Baldwin and his lawyers seem to be in lock step with, if a filing today is any indication.
“Mr. Baldwin asserts his right to a speedy trial as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution, Article 2, Section 14 of the New Mexico Constitution,” said Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro from the NYC office of Quinn Emanuel and Albuquerque lawyer Heather LeBlanc (read Alec Baldwin’s lawyers response to his court summons filing here) “Mr. Baldwin is entitled to a fair and speedy disposition of the charges to minimize public vilification and suspicion and to avoid the hazards of proving his innocence that often arise after lengthy delays in prosecution, “ they added
“Mr. Baldwin reserves the right to call any and all witnesses disclosed by the prosecution on a witness list for trial or hearing in this matter,” the attorneys concluded, putting down a marker for Special Prosecutors Kerri Morrisey and Jason Lewis.
Baldwin doesn’t necessarily have to be in the New Mexico courtroom in person on February 1. As when the Rust star/producer was charged before, the actor can appear via phone or “video conference.” But he does have to show up in one form or another. Otherwise, “if you fail to appear at the time and place specified, a warrant will be issued for your arrest,” the court proclaimed on January 22.
From the hours right after the October 21, 2021 death of Hutchins from a 1880s prop gun that Baldwin was pointing at the up-and-coming cinematographer during a rehearsal on the Bonanza Creek Ranch set just outside Santa Fe to now, the actor has declared on TV, in court filings and everywhere else that he did not pull the trigger. In a case that was a mess from the get-go, Baldwin saw criminal charges against him in the death of Hutchins dropped in April 2022. However, the newly named special prosecutors never ruled out refiling manslaughter or other claims against him if more evidence came in.
Within six months, that evidence looked to have come in.
“After extensive investigation over the past several months, additional facts have come to light that we believe show Mr. Baldwin has criminal culpability in the death of Halyna Hutchins and the shooting of Joel Souza,” said Special Prosecutors Morrissey and Lewis said in late October, before heading to a grand jury. A grand jury that delivered last week’s charges a year to the day that Baldwin and Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed were originally charged.
After a botched investigation by the Santa Fe Sheriff’s department, the FBI became further involved in early 2022 to determine that the weapon could have only gone off if Baldwin had pulled the trigger. That assessment was reiterated by independent weapons examiners brought on-board by the special prosecutors“Although Alec Baldwin repeatedly denies pulling the trigger, given the tests, findings and observations reported here, the trigger had to be pulled or depressed sufficiently to release the fully cocked or retracted hammer of the evidence revolver,” declared the damning special prosecutors report commissioned August 2 from Lucien Haag and Michael Haag.
After that, it became a matter of time and timing until Baldwin was likely to be charged again — as we saw on January 19 this year.
Rust director Joel Souza was wounded in the shooting but soon recovered. Both producers on Rust, Souza and Baldwin, with a new cinematographer and Hutchins husband as a producer too, went on to resurrect and finish Rust early last year in Montana. The film has gone out to some possible buyers Deadline hears.