SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Special prosecutors in the shooting death of a cinematographer on the set of the Alec Baldwin film “Rust” asked Friday to shield the name of a witness from public disclosure as they pursue charges against a movie weapons specialist.
Prosecutors said in court filings that the witness is prepared to testify that film set armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed handed off a small bag of narcotics to the witness after returning from an interview at a police station. But they said the witness worries about being harassed by media and blacklisted by the industry.
Gutierrez-Reed is fighting charges of involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering as the sole remaining defendant in the case after prosecutors dropped an involuntary manslaughter charge against Baldwin in April. Prosecutors can still refile charges against him, however.
Baldwin was pointing a gun at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during a rehearsal when it went off, killed her and injured director Joel Souza on Oct. 21, 2021.
In a new court filing, prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis said the testimony about a drug transfer will support allegations that Gutierrez-Reed attempted to prevent law enforcement from obtaining evidence related to the handling of the firearm prior to the shooting.
The witness is afraid that if they testify, they could be shut out by the film industry “for coming forward with information about the defendant,” the court filing said. “They wish to keep their identify from the public for as long as possible.”
The evidence tampering charge was filed last week against Gutierrez-Reed. Prosecutors have alleged that she was drinking and smoking marijuana in the evenings during the filming of “Rust” and was likely hungover on the day a live bullet was loaded into the gun Baldwin used.
Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney Jason Bowles criticized prosecutors’ efforts to bring forward a “secret witness.”
“A secret witness appears 20 months later? With no actual corroboration or evidence? And the state won’t identify the person?” he said. “This is a throwback to the secret, star chamber prosecutions in England in the 15th century that were abolished.”
Bowles has called tampering accusations against his client “retaliatory and vindictive” and an example of “character assassination.”