‘Rust’ Armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter in Accidental Shooting | lovebscott.com

‘Rust’ Armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed Guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter in Accidental Shooting

Photo Courtesy New Mexico Courts

Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the armorer working on “Rust,” was convicted on Wednesday of involuntary manslaughter in the death of the film’s cinematographer.

via Variety:

Jurors returned a verdict after less than three hours of deliberations on Wednesday afternoon, following two weeks of testimony about safety lapses on set.

Gutierrez Reed was acquitted of a separate charge of tampering with evidence. She faces up to 18 months in prison at sentencing, which is expected sometime in April.

Following the verdict, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer ordered Gutierrez Reed remanded into custody. As her attorney, Monnica Barreras, rubbed her back to comfort her, bailiffs led her away.

Outside the First Judicial District courthouse in Santa Fe, N.M., juror Alberto Sanchez told reporters that the jury reached a “fair” verdict.

“Someone died,” Sanchez said. “You gotta take responsibility. Especially when you’re handling weapons and you’re in charge of those. That’s your job.”

Gutierrez Reed was the first person to stand trial in the Oct. 21, 2021, shooting on the film set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch outside Santa Fe, N.M.

Alec Baldwin is set to face his own manslaughter trial in July. The first assistant director, Dave Halls, took a plea deal last year to a misdemeanor count of negligent handling of a gun, and served six months of unsupervised probation.

Gutierrez Reed loaded a live bullet into Baldwin’s pistol, which should have contained only dummy rounds. The gun fired, killing Halyna Hutchins and seriously wounding director Joel Souza.

Gutierrez Reed got the job largely because her father, Thell Reed, is a legendary film armorer who worked on “Tombstone,” “3:10 to Yuma,” and “L.A. Confidential,” among many others.

Thell Reed was in the courtroom when the verdict was read. Though his name was on the defense witness list, he was not called to testify. Stacy Reed, the defendant’s mother, was also there, and was in tears when her daughter was led away.

Rachel Mason, a friend of Hutchins’, attended the trial, and is directing and producing a documentary about her life entitled “Halyna.” Interviewed after the verdict, Mason said she was still processing feelings of grief and mourning.

“My overall feeling is extreme sadness that Halyna will continue to not be here,” Mason said. “Hannah going to jail will not change that.”

To convict on the involuntary manslaughter charge, jurors had to agree that Gutierrez Reed acted with “willful disregard for the safety of others” and that the death was a “foreseeable” consequence of her actions.

Shortly before the verdict, the jurors asked a question about what might constitute an “intervening event” that would break the foreseeable chain of events. Marlowe Sommer said that she could not offer further explanation than what was contained in jury instructions.

In her closing argument on Wednesday morning, prosecutor Kari Morrissey argued that Gutierrez Reed’s actions constituted an “astonishing” failure to adhere to industry safety practices. She argued that Gutierrez Reed was responsible for bringing the live rounds to set, and that she never properly rattle-tested them to ensure they were dummies.

The jury appeared to agree with that assessment.

“She could have paused work, stopped, and cleared it all up, and just never did,” Sanchez said outside the courthouse. “That was her job to check those rounds — those firearms. No one wanted to pay attention or do that sort of stuff and stop work.”

Defense attorney Jason Bowles countered that a workplace safety investigation laid the blame on management, in part for failing to give Gutierrez Reed adequate time to do her job. He also sought to put blame onto Seth Kenney, the weapons supplier who provided blanks and dummy rounds to the production.

Outside court, Bowles said was disappointed with the verdict and would appeal.

“The evidence wasn’t sufficient to convict,” he said. “It was a lot of guesswork, a lot of speculation.”

Mary Carmack-Altwies, the elected district attorney in Santa Fe, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon thanking the jury and thanking Morrissey and Jason Lewis, the outside attorneys whom she appointed as special prosecutors on the case.

“From the outset of this case, the FJDA’s sole pursuits were to bring justice to Halyna Hutchins’ family and friends and to ensure that those responsible for her death were held accountable,” Carmack-Altwies said. “In order to do so, the prosecution team exhausted investigative efforts which proved pivotal to successfully moving forward with this tragic and entirely preventable case.”

Morrissey and Lewis took over the case last March, after Carmack-Altwies and another special prosecutor withdrew.

The two private attorneys hired a new firearms expert and an imaging expert to enhance photographs. They subpoenaed behind-the-scenes footage, and conducted an exhaustive review of thousands of photos and videos, ultimately concluding that Gutierrez Reed had brought the live rounds to the film set.

Sanchez said the jury agreed with that conclusion.

Gloria Allred, who has sued Baldwin and the “Rust” producers on behalf of Hutchins’ parents and sister, issued a statement saying she is “satisfied” with the verdict, but that her clients wish for everyone responsible to be held to account.

“Today was the first trial and conviction in the criminal justice process,” Allred and co-counsel John Carpenter said in the statement. “We look forward to the justice system continuing to make sure that everyone else who is responsible for Halyna’s death is required to face the legal consequences for their actions.”

If she’s guilty, Alec Baldwin should be found guilty too.

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