‘Rust’ armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed guilty of involuntary manslaughter

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SANTA FE, N.M. — A New Mexico jury found “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed guilty of involuntary manslaughter and not guilty of tampering with evidence on Wednesday after deliberating for about two and a half hours.

The 26-year-old faces up to three years in state prison and will be sentenced at a later date. A judge ordered that Gutierrez-Reed be taken into custody and held until her sentencing.

Gutierrez-Reed showed little emotion as the jury foreperson read the verdicts. She took off a necklace before a deputy took her into custody. Her mother, seated behind her, put her hands on her head and bent forward as the judge ordered her remanded into custody pending sentencing.

The nearly two-week criminal trial centered around the 2021 shooting on the “Rust” film set in which actor Alec Baldwin held a prop gun that fired a live round of ammunition, killing the film’s cinematographer, Haylna Hutchins. The bullet also injured director Joel Souza.

During the prosecution’s closing arguments on Wednesday, special prosecutor Kari T. Morrissey told the jury that Gutierrez-Reed “was negligent, she was careless, she was thoughtless.”

Morrissey also said that following the fatal shooting, the 27-year-old armorer was more “worried about her career” and less about the victims.

But Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney, Jason Bowles said that the prosecutors had not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Gutierrez-Reed was responsible for bringing live rounds onto the set and alleged that Baldwin was ultimately responsible for Hutchins’s death.

“I submit to you what caused her death is Mr. Baldwin going off script. No one ever knew there would be a live round on set. The only act is the pointing of the weapon. Ms Gutierrez didn’t point that weapon,” Bowles said.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed in court in Santa Fe, N.M., on Feb. 27, 2024.Luis Sanchez Saturno / Pool via Getty Images file

The prosecution also called out Baldwin, as a “prima donna.”

“Alec Baldwin’s conduct and his lack of gun safety in the church that day is something he’s going to have to answer for … Not with you not today, that’s for another jury for another day.”

NBC News has reached out to the actor’s legal team for comment. His criminal trial begins in July.

Juror Albert Sanchez said “pretty much not checking the weapons” was a major factor in his decision in the Gutierrez-Reed case.

“Just handing them over, like ‘here.’ Not checking — that was a big deal,” Sanchez said. “I mean, you can’t do that. And if you have live rounds there, and you don’t even know it?”

Sanchez said that there wasn’t much disagreement among jurors. On the tampering with evidence charge, which involved cocaine, Sanchez said, “we didn’t just think it was necessary,” and “there was nothing there.”

First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, who appointed special prosecutors in the closely watched case, after the verdict called Hutchins’ death a “tragic and entirely preventable case.”

She said in a statement that prosecutors’ “sole pursuits were to bring justice to Halyna Hutchins’ family and friends and to ensure that those responsible for her death were held accountable.”

Throughout the trial, a series of eyewitnesses who were on set took the stand, including Souza, who recounted what it was like to be shot and the confusion that ensued.

“Nothing made sense,” Souza said last week. He said he remembered looking up at Gutierrez-Reed after the incident and hearing her repeatedly say, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, Joel.”

Souza described the feeling of being shot as though someone had “taken a baseball bat to my shoulder.”

But he said he did not realize he had been injured by a live round of ammunition, and when medical personnel informed him at the hospital, “It could not compute for me,” Souza said.

Dave Halls, who was the film’s safety coordinator and pleaded no contest to negligent use of a deadly weapon last year as part of a plea deal, also took the stand. His testimony was the first time he had spoken publicly about what happened that day. An emotional Halls testified that he should have checked the gun more thoroughly, admitting that he “did an improper check of that firearm.”

Halls went on to say that he did not recall seeing Gutierrez-Reed spin the entire cylinder around to ensure all bullets were dummy rounds. While wiping away tears he said, “I let a safety check pass.”

During opening statements, another special prosecutor in the case, Jason Lewis called Gutierrez-Reed’s behavior on the “Rust” set “sloppy” and “unprofessional.”

“We believe that it was the negligent acts and failures of the defendant … that contributed to Ms. Hutchins’ death,” he said.

Morrissey and Lewis were appointed special prosecutors in March 2023 after the previous special prosecutor resigned.

Bowles asked Wednesday in court that Gutierrez-Reed be allowed to remain free pending sentencing, saying that she has voluntarily appeared at every hearing and court appearance.

Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer declined and ordered her held.

“The reason why I’m going to remand you is you are now convicted, and this is a death,” Sommer said. “It’s criminal negligence, but it’s still a death.”

A sentencing date was not set before the court went into recess, but Bowles said that he had time for the sentencing in April.

Dana Griffin and Sumiko Moots reported from Santa Fe, and Chloe Melas from New York City.

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