9 things to know ahead of Alec Baldwin’s manslaughter trial

Alec Baldwin arrived in a Santa Fe, New Mexico, courtroom Monday for a hearing ahead of jury selection for his manslaughter trial related to the fatal 2021 on-set shooting of “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

On Oct. 21, 2021, Baldwin was rehearsing with revolver when the gun went off, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

The 66-year-old Baldwin, who pleaded not guilty, claims the shooting was an accident and that the gun misfired after he pulled the hammer, not the trigger.

What was Alec Baldwin charged with?

He is charged with felony involuntary manslaughter and faces up to 18 months in prison if convicted.

Hannah Gutierrez, the armorer on set, was convicted in March of involuntary manslaughter for her role in Hutchins’ death, but she is appealing the verdict. She claims she is not the person who brought live ammunition to the set.

Prosecutors previously argued that she was responsible for bringing the live rounds to set, but Baldwin’s role as co-producer could paint him as negligent.

Charges against Baldwin had been dropped in 2023 but were re-filed in January.

At the end of June, a defense motion to dismiss the case was rejected.

Who was killed?

Hutchins, who was 42. She was considered an up-and-coming movie-maker and is survived by a husband and young son.

What do the prosecutors need to prove?

They can either try to convince the jury Baldwin acted negligently with the firearm or that he acted with total disregard or indifference for the safety of others on the set.

They are expected to argue that Baldwin, in his role as producer on the film, behaved recklessly.

Who is defending Baldwin?

Baldwin hired New York firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to handle his case. Alex Spiro, who has defended other celebrities in disputes, is expected to handle cross-examination of the prosecution’s witnesses.

Spiro previously represented Megan Thee Stallion and Jay-Z. He has long represented Elon Musk, who is currently facing a defamation lawsuit in Texas.

In April, Spiro was hired to defend New York Mayor Eric Adams and the NYPD Transit Bureau in a lawsuit over an alleged sexual assault by Adams against a former officer.

They will largely argue that, in his role as an actor on the set, Baldwin was not responsible for checking the prop gun for live rounds. The Screen Actors Guild supports this position.

They will also argue the gun was damaged by investigators and the defense had no opportunity to conduct an independent examination of the weapon.

How long will the trial be?

The trial is expected to last about 10 days before jury deliberation. Jury selection is scheduled to begin Tuesday and last all day. Opening statements are expected to start Wednesday with closing arguments coming next Friday, July 19. There’s no way to predict how long the jury will take to reach a verdict, but given the complexity of the case, it could take several additional days.

Is there testimony or evidence the prosecutor or defense will try to exclude?

Baldwin’s team tried to block firearms experts who testified as Gutierrez from returning to the stand, but were unsuccessful. They will testify about how Baldwin handled the gun and whether it was functioning properly.

The defense also wants to nix any discussion of actor Brandon Lee’s death in a fatal shooting on the set of “The Crow.”

No charges were ever brought in that case, but the production was fined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Prosecutors want to exclude a letter signed by crew members that disputes the “Rust” set was chaotic or dangerous.

They also want to exclude the results of a state occupational safety investigation that put much of the blame of assistant director David Halls, the film’s assistant director who was accused by others of being responsible for the shooting. Halls pleaded no contest to negligent handling of a firearm.

The prosecutors have argued there is new, more reliable evidence that calls those findings into question.

Who else will testify?

Several people from the production, including Souza, the director who was also shot and wounded, and Halls.

Zac Sneesby, a crew member who was on set during the rehearsal, will testify he saw Baldwin pull the trigger.

Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer rejected an immunity deal prosecutors wanted to offer Gutierrez, but she may still be called to the stand.

The defense has not said whether Baldwin himself will testify, but he has every right to.

Has another production been charged for similar on-set deaths in the past?

Yes. In 1987, director John Landis and four others were acquitted of involuntary manslaughter for three deaths while filming “Twilight Zone: The Movie” in 1982.

Actor Vic Morrow — the father of actress Jennifer Jason Leigh — and two child actors were killed in a helicopter crash. The child actors’ families later reached a settlement in a civil suit.

Is the trial going to be broadcast?

Yes, on CourtTV and other outlets.

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