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“Rust“ district attorney steps down as prosecutor

2023-03-29T20:26:33Z

View of the “Rust” movie set at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S., January 20, 2023. REUTERS/Drone Base

The New Mexico district attorney who filed charges over the shooting death of “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins said on Wednesday she would step down as a prosecutor and named new special prosecutors on the case after the last one resigned.

First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies appointed Albuquerque attorneys Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis to serve as special prosecutors in the 2021 shooting death of Hutchins, according to a statement from her office.

Carmack-Altwies’ decision to step down from the case marked another setback for a prosecution beset by legal errors since it filed charges in January against “Rust” actor Alec Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed over Hutchins’ death.

The previous special prosecutor, Andrea Reeb, a Republican state representative, resigned on March 15 after lawyers for Baldwin argued it was unlawful for her to serve as a member of the state judiciary and legislature at the same time.

Lawyers for Gutierrez-Reed filed a motion to stop Carmack-Altwies acting as a co-prosecutor, arguing that she could not appoint a special prosecutor if she took part in the prosecution herself.

District court Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer on Monday agreed.

“Carmack-Altwies will step aside from personally prosecuting the ‘Rust’ case, allowing her to focus on the broader public safety needs in New Mexico’s First Judicial District,” said Heather Brewer, a spokeswoman for the district attorney.

Carmack-Altwies has five weeks to bring Morrissey and Lewis up to speed on the 17-month-old case before a May hearing where Marlowe Sommer will decide if there is probable cause to try Gutierrez-Reed and Baldwin.

Both were charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, one of which was subsequently dropped after Baldwin’s attorney argued the law underpinning it was passed after Hutchins was shot.

Baldwin pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and Gutierrez-Reed is expected to do the same.

Hutchins was killed and “Rust” director Joel Souza injured when a revolver Baldwin was rehearsing with fired a live round.

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