Judge denies Alec Baldwin’s motion to dismiss, trial on track for July

Posted at 6:45 PM, June 28, 2024

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A court ruling on Friday put an involuntary manslaughter case against Alec Baldwin on track for trial in early July as a judge denied a request to dismiss the case on complaints that the FBI damaged key evidence during forensic testing.

Alec Baldwin stands before a microphone

FILE – Alec Baldwin emcees the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Award Gala at New York Hilton Midtown on Dec. 9, 2021, in New York. A court ruling Friday, June 28, 2024, put an involuntary manslaughter case against Baldwin on track for trial in early July as a judge denied a request to dismiss the case on complaints that key evidence was damaged by the FBI during forensic testing. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer sided with prosecutors in rejecting a motion to dismiss the case.

Defense attorneys had argued that the gun in the fatal shooting was heavily damaged during FBI forensic testing before it could be examined for possible modifications or problems that might exonerate the actor-producer. The ruling removes one of the last hurdles before prosecutors can bring the case to trial.

During a rehearsal on the set of the Western film “Rust” in 2021, Baldwin pointed a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins when the revolver went off, killing her and injuring director Joel Souza. Baldwin has maintained that he pulled back the gun’s hammer but not the trigger and has pleaded not guilty.

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The FBI conducted an accidental discharge test on the gun by striking it from several angles with a rawhide mallet, eventually breaking the gun. Prosecutors plan to present evidence at trial that they say shows the firearm “could not have fired absent a pull of the trigger” and was working properly before the shooting.

Baldwin has twice been charged in Hutchins’ death. Prosecutors dismissed an earlier charge, then refiled it after receiving a new analysis of the revolver that Baldwin pointed at Hutchins.

“Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez is serving an 18-month sentence on a conviction for involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting as she appeals the jury verdict.

Marlowe Sommer said that the destruction of internal components of the firearm “is not highly prejudicial” to a fair trial.

While Baldwin “contends that an unaltered firearm is critical to his case, other evidence concerning the functionality of the firearm on Oct. 21, 2021, weighs against the defendant’s assertions,” the judge wrote.