Alec Baldwin drew one step closer to trial over the fatal “Rust” shooting Thursday after a New Mexico judge set three important dates for the case — and his lawyer dropped a bombshell about a key piece of evidence that prosecutors quickly debunked.
First Judicial District Judge Mary Marlow Sommer met virtually with lawyers for Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, both of whom are charged with involuntary manslaughter in the October 2021 death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
Baldwin’s defense attorney made a damning allegation during the virtual hearing that the state had destroyed a key piece of evidence — the gun allegedly fired by Baldwin that shot Hutchins, according to the local station KOB4.
“The court, I don’t think is aware at this point, but I think I should tell the court — the firearm, in this case … was destroyed by the state,” attorney Alex Spiro said. “So that’s obviously an issue, and we’re going to have to see that firearm, or what’s left of it.”
The gun had been turned over to the FBI as part of the investigation, and New Mexico prosecutors later denied the claim in a statement to CNBC.
“The gun Alec Baldwin used in the shooting that killed Halyna Hutchins has not been destroyed by the state. The gun is in evidence and is available for the defense to review,” said Heather Brewer, spokesperson for New Mexico’s First Judicial District Attorney’s office.
Brewer said the firearm had sustained damage to internal components during the FBI’s functionality testing, but that it “still exists and can be used as evidence.”
Baldwin has denied pulling the trigger when the gun went off, sending a fatal bullet through Hutchins.
After conferring with Baldwin and Reed’s separate counsel, Sommer set a hearing for the defense’s motion to disqualify on March 27.
She also said the Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies had to tell the court which witness they know they will call during the preliminary hearing by April 17.
The preliminary hearing, which is expected to last around two weeks, was set for May 3 and could last through May 17.
Baldwin, 64, did not attend the hearing after the judge said he didn’t need to.
The short meeting was primarily meant for scheduling, despite the defense’s bombshell claim.
The embattled actor pleaded not guilty to the charges on Feb. 23.
If convicted he would face up to 18 months in prison.
The actor and Gutierrez-Reed both originally faced up to five years, but the maximum sentence went down to a year and a half after DA Carmack-Altwies dropped the gun enhancement charges against the pair.
The May preliminary examination will function somewhat like a “mini-trial” as witnesses are called to the stand.
The trial won’t officially kick off until jury selection starts sometime over the summer.