Lawyers pin blame on Baldwin as 'Rust' trial opens

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Lawyers pin blame on Alec Baldwin for the fatal shooting on the set of "Rust," while defending the film's gunman against accusations of unprofessionalism and negligence by prosecutors

Lawyers pin blame on Baldwin as 'Rust' trial opens

In their opening statements on Thursday, lawyers blamed Alec Baldwin for the fatal shooting on the set of the Western film "Rust" and defended the film's gunman against prosecutors' claims that he "acted unprofessionally and was sloppy."

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died from her injuries after being hit by a live round fired from a gun Baldwin was holding during a rehearsal in New Mexico in 2021.

Baldwin, the lead actor and a producer on "Rust," is awaiting his own manslaughter trial at the same Santa Fe court. He has pleaded not guilty and insisted he did not pull the trigger, saying that as an actor, he should have been able to rely on the professionals around him.

But the Hollywood A-lister was at the heart of arguments made by the defense for armorer Hannah Gutierrez, who was responsible for weapons on set and is the first person to go on trial over the tragedy.

"Mr Baldwin, one of the lead producers, head actor on the movie – he really controlled the set. You're going to hear that he violated some of the most basic gun safety rules you can ever learn," said defense lawyer Jason Bowles.

"He violated all of those. It wasn't Miss Gutierrez-Reed. It was Mr Baldwin."

Gutierrez, also known as Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, has denied involuntary manslaughter.

The prosecution opened its case by portraying Gutierrez as consistently "unprofessional and sloppy."

Prosecutor Jason Lewis alleged Gutierrez failed to properly check Baldwin's gun, frequently rushed or skipped safety procedures, and routinely left guns and ammo unattended on set.

A crime scene technician said real bullets had been found loose alongside fake rounds atop a "prop cart," and tucked into holsters used by actors including Baldwin.

"The evidence will show that the defendant treated the safety protocols as if they were optional, rather than that people's lives counted on her doing her job correctly," said Lewis.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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