A key hearing in the “Rust” manslaughter case has been postponed until August, as New Mexico prosecutors say they need more time to complete a fuller investigation.
Prosecutors announced on Thursday that they would drop charges against Alec Baldwin, after new evidence came to light. But the state is still pursuing involuntary manslaughter charges against Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the armorer who loaded Baldwin’s gun.
Baldwin was preparing for a scene at a film ranch near Santa Fe in 2021 when his gun fired, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. The gun was supposed to be loaded only with inert “dummy” rounds, but instead included a live bullet that bore similar brand markings.
The case was first scheduled to go to a preliminary hearing on May 3. But the two special prosecutors, who were appointed three weeks ago, now say they will need time to subpoena witnesses and do more investigation before they are ready for the hearing.
Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer agreed on Friday to reschedule the hearing for Aug. 9.
Jason Bowles, Gutierrez Reed’s attorney, supported the delay. In a statement on Thursday, Bowles and co-counsel Todd Bullion praised the new prosecutors for their “diligent and thorough approach” to taking a new look at the evidence.
“The truth about what happened will come out and the questions that we have long sought answers for will be answered,” they said in the statement. “We fully expect at the end of this process that Hannah will also be exonerated.”
Gutierrez Reed’s lawyers have focused on Seth Kenney, the weapons supplier who provided Baldwin’s Colt .45 and the dummy rounds to the set. They have sued Kenney under the New Mexico product liability law, alleging that he mixed live rounds into a box of dummies. Kenney has denied wrongdoing.
Kenney was not charged by D.A. Mary Carmack-Altwies, though he is on the state’s witness list. Carmack-Altwies recused herself from the case last month, after the judge ruled she could not continue to work on it if she appointed a special prosecutor.
The new prosecutors formally dismissed the charges against Baldwin on Friday. However, they have said that Baldwin has not been absolved, and that charges could be refiled later on.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office spent more than a year investigating the case before charges were filed in January. That investigation included submitting the gun and live rounds to the FBI for forensic analysis.
That analysis concluded that Baldwin’s gun was functioning normally at the time of the shooting. However, during FBI testing, the gun broke apart. A source said that Baldwin’s lawyers were able to show prosecutors that the gun had been modified prior to the shooting, making it more difficult for the D.A. to prove that he negligently pulled the trigger.