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Testimony continues Friday in Alec Baldwin's 'Rust' trial

Actor Alec Baldwin in Santa Fe court on Wednesday.
Ross D. Franklin
Actor Alec Baldwin in Santa Fe court on Wednesday.

Updated July 12, 2024 at 08:02 AM ET

Testimony is underway in actor Alec Baldwin’s trial for involuntary manslaughter. He's been in court this week supported by his wife, Hilaria, and multiple siblings.

Nearly three years ago, Baldwin was pointing a gun during a rehearsal on the set of the movie Rust. It went off, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding the film’s director, Joel Souza.

Testimony so far

On Wednesday, jurors heard testimony from multiple Santa Fe officers on the scene that day, along with crime scene technician Marissa Poppell. On Thursday, attorneys continued to question Poppell for hours about the source of the ammunition on the film set.

Alessandro Pietta of Pietta Firearms, which made the gun that went off on the set of <em>Rust</em>.
Ramsay de Give / Reuters
Alessandro Pietta of Pietta Firearms, which made the gun that went off on the set of Rust.

Later, Alessandro Pietta, the Italian firearms manufacturer whose company created the gun in question, testified that the firearm could only be set off by pulling the trigger. And a representative from a marketing firm that distributes Pietta guns in the United States testified about their safety standards.

Alexandra Hancock, a detective in Santa Fe, said that Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed had brought live ammunition to the set. Gutierrez-Reed has already been convicted for involuntary manslaughter and is serving an 18-month sentence.

Opening arguments

Attorneys on both sides presented their opening arguments to the jury on Wednesday.

The prosecution’s approach

Attorney Erlinda O. Johnson made opening statements on behalf of the prosecution team.
Ross D. Franklin / AP
Attorney Erlinda O. Johnson made opening statements on behalf of the prosecution team.

Special prosecutor Erlinda Johnson argued that Baldwin flouted safety standards on set.

“The evidence will show that someone who played make believe with a real gun and violated the cardinal rules of firearm safety is the defendant, Alexander Baldwin,” Johnson said.

She argued that Baldwin didn’t do a safety check of the Colt .45 before the fatal shooting during a rehearsal in a church scene for Rust.

The defense

Alex Spiro, one of Baldwin's attorneys.
Ross D. Franklin / AP
Alex Spiro, one of Baldwin's attorneys.

Baldwin’s attorney, Alex Spiro, argued that others were responsible for letting a live round onto the film set and into the gun in the first place.

“Those people failed in their duties, but Alec Baldwin committed no crime,” he argued. One of those people, he said, was Gutierrez-Reed.

Spiro also played tape of a 911 call made from the set, in which Rust script supervisor Mamie Mitchell calls the shooting an accident. She also mentions the film’s first assistant director, calling him “responsible.” First assistant director Dave Halls previously took a plea deal and agreed to testify in upcoming trials related to the shooting, including Baldwin’s.

Catch up on Baldwin’s case so far

Copyright 2024 NPR

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.