(Los Angeles) The charges against American actor Alec Baldwin, charged with manslaughter after a fatal shooting on the set of the movie Rust in 2021, were formally dropped by the prosecution on Friday, in light of “new facts” worthy of further investigation.
These new elements “require a more in-depth investigation and forensic analysis which cannot be completed before the preliminary hearing” scheduled for May 3 in this case, note the two new prosecutors who took over the case in March.
But the actor is not exempt. “The investigation is active and ongoing,” they said, reserving the right to initiate further proceedings if necessary.
On October 21, 2021, the filming of the western Rust in New Mexico took a dramatic turn when Mr. Baldwin pointed a gun that was supposed to contain only blanks, but whose real projectile killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the new elements brought to justice relate to the weapon of the drama. The gun would have been modified before it was delivered to the film crew, increasing the chances of an untimely shot occurring, three sources familiar with the matter explained to the daily.
What accredit the version of Alec Baldwin, who claims his innocence from the start. The 65-year-old actor has always maintained that he was assured his gun was harmless and also denies pulling the trigger.
Suspected of manslaughter, he pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he could face up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The proceedings against the gunsmith of the film, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, also accused of manslaughter, are however maintained.
During the initial investigation, the police concluded that she was the one who put the ammunition in the gun used by Mr. Baldwin, rather than a dummy bullet.
The prosecution had already shown signs of fragility in recent weeks.
The two prosecutors initially responsible for the case withdrew from the case. An aggravating circumstance against Mr. Baldwin, which made him face five years behind bars, was also dropped because of a procedural flaw.
The case is now in the hands of two new prosecutors, Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis.
Filming for Rust resumed this week in Montana, with Halyna Hutchins’ widower, Matthew, serving as executive producer. In October, he dropped his civil lawsuit against Alec Baldwin after an undisclosed settlement.