Alec Baldwin scored another win in the Rust case as special prosecutor, Andrea Reeb, announced on Tuesday she’s stepping down. The move comes one month after the actor’s legal team filed a motion asking the judge to have her dismissed, claiming her status as a Republican lawmaker in the New Mexico House of Representatives is “unconstitutional.” Baldwin, whose charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter for the death of the film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins, has pleaded not guilty.
“After much reflection, I have made the difficult decision to step down as special prosecutor in the Rust case. My priority in this case — and in every case I’ve prosecuted in my 25-year career — has been justice for the victim,” the office of New Mexico’s First Judicial District Attorney tells Yahoo Entertainment. “However, it has become clear that the best way I can ensure justice is served in this case is to step down so that the prosecution can focus on the evidence and the facts, which clearly show a complete disregard for basic safety protocols led to the death of Halyna Hutchins. I will not allow questions about my serving as a legislator and prosecutor to cloud the real issue at hand.”
Paperwork has been filed with the court and prosecutors are not commenting further at this time. Yahoo reached out to Baldwin’s attorney, but did not immediately receive a response.
Hutchins was killed when a gun Baldwin was holding discharged during rehearsals. He’s repeatedly said he did not pull the trigger. That will be a big point of contention at trial… assuming the case makes it there. The defense and prosecution publicly sparred last week after a hearing on Thursday. One of Baldwin’s attorneys claimed in court the firearm in question “was destroyed by the state.”
Heather Brewer, a spokeswoman for the New Mexico First District Attorney, later refuted that to the media and said the gun is “in evidence and is available for the defense to review.”
“The defense’s unexpected statement in the status hearing today that the gun had been destroyed by the state may be a reference to a statement in the FBI’s July 2022 firearms testing report that said damage was done to internal components of the gun during the FBI’s functionality testing. However, the gun still exists and can be used as evidence,” Brewer added.
Last month, prosecutors downgraded one of the involuntary manslaughter charges against Baldwin that included a firearm enhancement. It carried a maximum sentence of five years behind bars if convicted. It was the most serious outcome he faced.
Baldwin’s lawyers argued that prosecutors committed “an unconstitutional and legal error” by charging the 30 Rock star “under a statute that did not exist under the state of the accident.” The law in question took effect in March 2022, almost six months after Hutchins was killed. The same charge was also dropped against Rust armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. Legal experts widely condemned the initial move by prosecutors.
“In order to avoid further litigious distractions by Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys, the District Attorney and the special prosecutor have removed the firearm enhancement to the involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of Halyna Hutchins on the Rust film set,” Brewer explained of the decision. “The prosecution’s priority is securing justice, not securing billable hours for big-city attorneys.”
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed face one count of involuntary manslaughter, a fourth-degree felony that carries a sentence of 18 months in prison.
Rust will resume production this spring — but not in New Mexico. Rust Movie Productions announced the movie will shoot at Yellowstone Film Ranch in Montana. Baldwin will return along with director Joel Souza, who was injured in the 2021 incident, plus a mix of old and new crew.