Rust movie shooting: Jury convicts movie armorer of involuntary manslaughter

A jury has convicted a movie armorer of involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of cinematographer by Alec Baldwin.

The shooting happened during a rehearsal on the set of the Western movie "Rust."

The verdict against movie armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed assigns new blame in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in October 2021. An assistant director last year pleaded no contest to negligent handling of a firearm.

Baldwin, the lead actor and a co-producer on "Rust," was indicted by a grand jury in January on a charge of involuntary manslaughter. He was pointing a gun at Hutchins on a movie set outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, when the gun went off, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza.

RELATED: Alec Baldwin indicted for cinematographer's fatal shooting on 'Rust' movie set

During the two-week trial, prosecutors alleged Gutierrez-Reed unwittingly brought live ammunition onto the set of "Rust" while flouting basic industry gun-safety guidelines.

The involuntary manslaughter charge against Gutierrez-Reed carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. 

Gutierrez-Reed was ordered immediately after the verdict to be taken into custody by deputies.

The 24-year-old was on her second feature film as armorer at the time of the 2021 shooting. She pleaded not guilty before trial to the charges of involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering at the trial held in downtown Santa Fe.

The proceedings are a preamble to a scheduled trial of Baldwin in July on a single charge of involuntary manslaughter. The actor, who has pleaded not guilty, was pointing a revolver at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins when the gun went off, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza.

RELATED: Alec Baldwin 'Rust' fatal shooting trial set to begin in July

Prosecutors say Gutierrez-Reed unknowingly brought live ammunition onto the set of "Rust" at a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe, arguing that rounds lingered for at least 12 days until the fatal shooting.

In closing arguments, prosecutor Kari Morrissey described "constant, never-ending safety failures" on the set of "Rust" and Gutierrez-Reed's "astonishing lack of diligence" with gun safety.

"We end exactly where we began — in the pursuit of justice for Halyna Hutchins," Morrissey told the jury. "Hannah Gutierrez failed to maintain firearms safety, making a fatal accident willful and foreseeable."

Prosecutors contend the armorer repeatedly skipped or skimped on standard gun-safety protocols that might have detected the live rounds.

"This was a game of Russian roulette every time an actor had a gun with dummies," Morrissey said.

RELATED: 'Rust' movie medic awarded $1.15 million partial settlement

Defense attorneys said the problems on the set extended far beyond Gutierrez-Reed’s control, including the mishandling of weapons by Baldwin. At trial they cited sanctions and findings by state workplace safety investigators.


SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO - MARCH 01: Hannah Gutierrez-Reed (R) talks with her attorney Jason Bowles (L) during the trial against her in First District Court on March 1, 2024 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Gutierrez-Reed, who was working as the armorer on the m

Prosecutors did not come close to proving where the live rounds originated and failed to fully investigate an Albuquerque-based ammunition supplier, the defense said at trial.

Lead attorney Jason Bowles told jurors that no one in the cast and crew thought there were live rounds on set and Gutierrez-Reed could not have foreseen that Baldwin would "go off-script" when he pointed the revolver at Hutchins. Investigators found no video recordings of the shooting.

"It was not in the script for Mr. Baldwin to point the weapon," Bowles said. "She didn’t know that Mr. Baldwin was going to do what he did."

To drive the point home, Bowles played a video outtake in which Baldwin fired a revolver loaded with blanks — including a shot after a director calls "cut."

RELATED: 'Rust' movie reboots after Alec Baldwin shooting

On the day of the shooting, Bowles said, Gutierrez-Reed alone was segregated in a police car away from others, becoming a convenient scapegoat.

"You had a production company on a shoestring budget, an A-list actor that was really running the show," Bowles said. "At the end, they had somebody they could all blame."


FILE - Lucien Haag, forensic science firearms evidence examination and shooting reconstruction expert witness, shows the jury a gun exactly like the evidence gun during the involuntary manslaughter trial of Hannah Gutierrez-Reed at the First Judicial (Luis Sánchez Saturno-Pool/Getty Images)

Bowles began his closing arguments by highlighting testimony from "Rust" armorer Sarah Zachry saying that, in a panic in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, she threw out ammunition from guns used by actors other than Baldwin. That undermined all evidence about the sources of ammunition, the defense argued.

Prosecutors said six live rounds found on set bear mostly identical characteristics and don’t match live rounds seized from the movie’s supplier in Albuquerque. Defense attorneys said the cluttered supply office was not searched until a month after the shooting, undermining the significance of physical evidence.

Gutierrez-Reed also had faced a second charge, of evidence tampering, stemming from accusations that she handed a small bag of possible narcotics to another crew member after the shooting to avoid detection.

The felony charges against Gutierrez-Reed carry a possible sentence of up to three years in prison.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.