Movie Set Armorer Convicted

A jury has reached a verdict in the trial of "Rust" armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the Western film.

After less than three hours of deliberation, the jury found Gutierrez Reed guilty of the charge but acquitted her of a separate charge of evidence tampering. She was immediately taken into custody and will remain there until her sentencing, which has yet to be scheduled.

The trial, which began on Feb. 21, saw testimony from weapons experts, law enforcement officials, and crew members who were present at the fatal shooting. The prosecution's case focused on Gutierrez Reed's alleged failure to do her job properly as an armorer, claiming that she did not prevent actor Alec Baldwin, who was holding the gun, from behaving recklessly with it. They argued that it was her responsibility to ensure the safe handling of firearms on set.

Special prosecutor Kari Morrissey stated during closing arguments that Gutierrez Reed "knew that Baldwin was loose" and that "she didn't do anything about it." She stressed that it was the armorer's job to intervene and prevent Baldwin from handling the gun in the way he did. The prosecution also pointed out that Gutierrez Reed had faced previous complaints about her job performance as an armorer.

However, the defense countered that there were factors outside of Gutierrez Reed's control that contributed to the tragic accident. Her lawyer, Jason Bowles, argued that it was not reasonable to expect the armorer to anticipate and prevent Baldwin's actions on set, as well as the presence of a live round on the set. He pointed out that it was someone else's responsibility to ensure that only dummy rounds were used on set.

During the trial, the jury heard emotional testimony from director Joel Souza, who was also shot during the incident. He described the chaos on set and the impact of the loud bang that he heard before realizing he had been shot. He also expressed disbelief at the idea of a live round being present on a movie set.

The fatal shooting occurred on Oct. 21, 2021, while the crew was filming a scene at Bonanza Creek Ranch. Hutchins and Souza were setting up a close-up shot when Baldwin, who was holding the gun, fired it. The bullet hit Hutchins and then struck Souza, who was standing behind her. Hutchins died from her injuries, while Souza sustained a shoulder injury.

The incident sparked a public debate about safety protocols on film sets and the use of real guns in movies. The film industry has since implemented stricter regulations on the handling of firearms and the use of live ammunition on set.

The trial also shed light on the responsibilities of an armorer on a film set. Gutierrez Reed had previously worked on several film projects as an assistant armorer but was new to the role of head armorer on "Rust." Her lack of experience has been called into question during the trial, and the industry may see more stringent requirements for hiring armorers in the future.

The verdict in this case is a landmark decision, as it marks the first time a crew member has been held criminally responsible for a death on a film set. The outcome of this trial could set a precedent for future cases involving similar incidents.

The industry is now awaiting Gutierrez Reed's sentencing, which could result in up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. The judge's decision will likely be influenced by the fact that this was a "death case," as she stated while ordering Gutierrez Reed to be taken into custody immediately after the verdict was read.

The tragic death of Halyna Hutchins has brought significant changes to the film industry and has also resulted in the loss and incredible impact on the lives of many, including her family and loved ones. As the case comes to a close, both sides will likely face the difficult task of grappling with the aftermath of this tragic incident.

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