Alec Baldwin has been indicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter, as prosecutors once again seek to hold the actor accountable for the on-set death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
Baldwin, 65, was initially charged in the case in January 2023. But the charges were dropped three months later, after Baldwin’s defense team raised questions about whether his Colt .45 was functioning properly when it fired.
Hutchins was preparing to film a scene with Baldwin at a ranch near Santa Fe, N.M., in October 2021 when the gun went off. Baldwin has maintained that he did not pull the trigger.
If convicted, Baldwin faces up to 18 months in prison.
“We look forward to our day in court,” said Baldwin’s attorneys, Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro, in a statement on Friday.
Two special prosecutors, Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis, sent the gun for further forensic testing last summer. Their experts, Lucien and Michael Haag, reconstructed the gun — which had been broken during FBI testing — and concluded that it could only have been fired by a pull of the trigger.
“This fatal incident was the consequence of the hammer being manually retracted to its fully rearward and cocked position followed, at some point, by the pull or rearward depression of the trigger,” the report concluded. “Although Alec Baldwin repeatedly denies pulling the trigger, given the tests, findings and observations reported here, the trigger had to be pulled or depressed sufficiently to release the fully cocked or retracted hammer of the evidence revolver.”
Morrissey and Lewis said in October that they intended to take the case to a grand jury within two months, stating that “additional facts” had come to light that pointed toward Baldwin’s culpability.
At the time, Nikas said the decision was “unfortunate.”
“It is unfortunate that a terrible tragedy has been turned into this misguided prosecution,” Nikas said. “We will answer any charges in court.”
The film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, is set to go on trial on Feb. 21 on charges of involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence. Gutierrez Reed mistakenly loaded a live bullet into Baldwin’s gun, which was supposed to contain only dummies. It remains unclear how live rounds became mixed in with dummy rounds on the set.
Hutchins’ widower, Matthew Hutchins, filed a wrongful death lawsuit shortly after the shooting, but reached a settlement in October 2022. The settlement provided for insurance funds and a portion of the film’s profits to benefit the couple’s son, who was 9 years old when his mother was killed.
Chicago Tribune editors’ top story picks, delivered to your inbox each afternoon.
The film has since been completed with additional filming in Montana, and is awaiting distribution.
At the time of the settlement, Matthew Hutchins indicated he did not blame Baldwin for the shooting.
“I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame (to the producers or Mr. Baldwin),” Hutchins said. “All of us believe Halyna’s death was a terrible accident. I am grateful that the producers and the entertainment community have come together to pay tribute to Halyna’s final work.”
A few months later, however, when Baldwin was first charged with manslaughter, Hutchins’ attorney said the charges were warranted.
“We support the charges, will fully cooperate with this prosecution, and fervently hope the justice system works to protect the public and hold accountable those who break the law,” said the attorney, Brian Panish, in a statement at the time.
The initial prosecutors, Mary Carmack-Altwies and Andrea Reeb, held Baldwin responsible not only for pulling the trigger, but also for a series of management lapses that led to relaxed safety standards on set. However, the New Mexico division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration concluded that Baldwin — though he was a producer on the film — was not in a position of management authority, and was not culpable for the lack of oversight.
The first assistant director, David Halls, pleaded no contest last March to a misdemeanor gun charge. He was given six months of unsupervised probation.