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‘Rust’ Armorer Seeks New Trial and Release From Jail

Attorneys for “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed asked a judge on Friday to release her from jail and to grant a new trial, citing a recent New Mexico Supreme Court ruling in another case.

Gutierrez Reed faces up to 18 months in prison for negligently loading a live bullet into Alec Baldwin’s gun and causing the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. She has been held since her conviction on March 6 at the Santa Fe County Adult Detention Facility, where she awaits her April 15 sentencing.

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Her attorneys, Jason Bowles and Monnica Barreras, argued in the motion that a state Supreme Court opinion issued on Thursday will “almost certainly” lead to her conviction being overturned.

The challenge relates to the instructions that were given to jurors. The jurors were asked to find that Gutierrez Reed loaded live ammunition into Baldwin’s gun, “and/or” that she failed to properly check the ammunition.

The defense contends that the “and/or” conjunction allowed the jurors to convict even if they were not unanimous on either act.

On Thursday, the state Supreme Court overturned the conviction of two daycare workers on similar grounds. In that case, the jury instructions included four separate acts linked by the “and/or” conjunction. The court found that created “confusion and misdirection,” and ordered a new trial.

“The term and/or has proved singularly unsuited to formulating clear and effective jury instructions, to the degree that our trial courts would be well served to avoid its use in jury instructions altogether,” the court held.

Bowles and Barreras argue that the ruling means that an appeals court is “virtually certain” to order a new trial for Gutierrez Reed. They urge that she be released while the appeal is pending. The defense is likely to cite several other issues in its appeal.

Kari Morrissey, the prosecutor in the case, declined to comment.

Baldwin’s lawyers have filed a separate challenge to the jury instructions that were used to indict him for involuntary manslaughter in January. His lawyers are seeking to throw out the indictment for a series of alleged prosecutorial abuses. His trial is scheduled for July.

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