Prosecutors have dropped a key charge against Alec Baldwin which would have seen him jailed for five years after shooting dead ‘Rust’ cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
The Santa Fe County District Attorney’s office has dropped a gun enhancement charge against the actor – meaning that even if he is convicted of the involuntary manslaughter charge, he may not spend any time behind bars.
A lawyer on behalf of Baldwin filed a motion excoriating prosecutors for going after the actor with a law that did not apply to him last week.
Initially, the gun enhancement charge was tacked onto his involuntary manslaughter charges, but Santa Fe DA’s office has confirmed that it was removed on Friday. DailyMail reports.
The charge requires the person who has used the gun to ‘brandish’ the weapon, meaning the gun was displayed with intent to intimidate or injure a person.
At the time of the shooting, Baldwin was on set shooting for ‘Rust’, meaning that it is unlikely that the charge meets the New Mexico law.
However a new amendment to the law means that brandishing is no longer needed – a change that happened seven months after the fatal incident.
Santa Fe District Attorney said in a statement: ‘In order to avoid further litigious distractions by Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys, the District Attorney and the special prosecutor have removed the firearm enhancement to the involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of Halyna Hutchins on the ‘Rust’ film set.
‘The prosecution’s priority is securing justice, not securing billable hours for big-city attorneys.’
The aggressive statement comes days after Baldwin’s lawyers argued about the charge, citing the change in the law in their arguments.
Baldwin and ‘Rust’ armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed were both charged with involuntary manslaughter in January as prosecutors cited a ‘criminal disregard for safety.’
They have now both had the enhanced charges against them dropped, less than a month after they were brought. DailyMail confirmed.
His legal team, led by New York attorney Luke Nikas, said: ‘The prosecutors committed a basic legal error by charging Mr. Baldwin under a version of the firearm-enhancement statute that did not exist on the date of the accident.
‘That version of the statute could not apply to conduct that occurred before it was enacted.
This comes after it was revealed that Halyna’s husband will testify in court after she was killed by a bullet in the ‘prop’ gun.