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According to Rust’s trial, Alec Baldwin “played the trick of pretending he had a real gun”

Video subtitle, Rust trial jury hears opening statements

  • Author, Christal Hayes, Samantha Granville and Emma Vardy
  • Role, BBC News

The trial of Alec Baldwin began Wednesday in New Mexico with the prosecution and defense presenting starkly different portraits of the events leading up to the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Baldwin, known for his roles on the sitcom 30 Rock and for playing Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live, faces up to 18 months in prison if convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Ms Hutchins, 42, died after a gun Baldwin was rehearsing with went off. It was discovered that the film’s gunsmith, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, accidentally mistook imitation bullets for real ammunition she had brought from home.

Mr. Baldwin has pleaded not guilty and maintains that he never pulled the trigger when the gun was fired.

In its opening statements, the defense portrayed Mr. Baldwin as an actor simply doing his job and placing his trust in a team charged with ensuring gun safety.

Prosecutors argued he was a man with a blatant disregard for gun safety on a film set with a small budget and an inexperienced cast.

Prosecutor Erlinda Johnson opened the trial by telling the jury that the case was “simple” and “direct.”

Mr Baldwin “pretended to be using a real gun” and “violated fundamental rules of firearm safety”, Ms Johnson said.

“Even though it was a movie set, for many people it was a real, live workplace,” he said in his opening remarks. “You will hear that this workplace was on a tight budget… and that some of the people who were hired were inexperienced.”

However, Baldwin’s defense team argued that firearms are treated differently on a film set, where each cast member has a designated role and obligation, even when it comes to safety and firearms.

“He was simply acting as he has for generations, and it was the security apparatus that failed everyone,” said Baldwin’s attorney, Alex Spiro.

“Alec Baldwin did not commit any crime,” he said firmly, adding: “It was an actor who handled a prop.”

Crew members responsible for safety, including Gutierrez-Reed and David Halls, assistant director and safety coordinator, failed in their jobs, he argued.

“There are never supposed to be live bullets on movie sets,” Spiro said.

Image source, fake images

Screenshot, Halyna Hutchins in 2019

Both Halls and Gutierrez-Reed faced charges in the fatal shooting.

A key issue during the trial is Mr. Baldwin’s claim that he did not pull the trigger when the revolver he was holding went off.

Prosecutors criticized that claim from the start, detailing the FBI’s extensive testing of the weapon.

“It worked perfectly as designed,” Johnson told the jury.

The remainder of the trial will feature numerous witnesses and video and audio from the set of Rust, including from the day Ms. Hutchins was murdered.

The first witness called Wednesday was Officer Nicholas LeFleur, who responded to the scene and tried to help Hutchins after he was shot.

Footage from his body camera was shown in court.

The room, which seats about 100 people, was filled with deep sighs as they watched some of Ms. Hutchins’ final moments.

Mr. Baldwin was visibly uncomfortable, leaning back and forth and sometimes grimacing and covering his face.

The trial will continue until July 19 and Baldwin could be sentenced to up to 18 months in prison.

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