Alec Baldwin to be arraigned this week for 'Rust' movie-set shooting

Actor Alec Baldwin in New York

By Jasper Ward and Brad Brooks

(Reuters) -Actor Alec Baldwin will be arraigned on Thursday in New Mexico after he was charged again with involuntary manslaughter in the fatal 2021 shooting of a cinematographer on the set of the film "Rust," officials said on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for New Mexico's court system said in an email that Baldwin's arraignment in the First Judicial District Court in Santa Fe would be a virtual proceeding.

Baldwin's attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Earlier this month when the new charges were announced Baldwin's attorneys Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro issued a statement saying: "We look forward to our day in court."

The Oct. 21, 2021, shooting on the set of "Rust" killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. The reinstated criminal case against Baldwin comes months after previous charges were dropped.

The new charges came in an indictment by a New Mexico grand jury after an independent forensic test concluding that Baldwin would have had to have pulled the trigger of a revolver he was using in a rehearsal for it to fire the live round that struck Hutchins in the chest and killed her.

The finding was the same as a previous FBI test on the firearm.

When prosecutors announced their intention in October to bring the case to a grand jury, the defense lawyers called the situation a "terrible tragedy" that "has been turned into this misguided prosecution."

Baldwin, the Emmy-winning performer who starred in the hit NBC television comedy "30 Rock", has denied pulling the trigger and said he was not responsible for Hutchins' death.

The movie's director, Joel Souza, was struck and wounded in the shoulder by the same bullet that killed Hutchins during production of the film on a set outside Santa Fe.

According to a police report, David Halls, the assistant director who handed the gun to Baldwin, told the actor the weapon was "cold," an industry term meaning it did not contain live ammunition or even blank rounds. Halls told police he was unaware the gun was loaded.

Last year as part of a plea agreement Halls was sentenced to a six-month suspended sentence with unsupervised probation, a $500 fine, 24 hours of community service and a firearms safety class on a charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon.

The movie's chief weapons handler, Hannah Gutierrez, who handled the gun before Halls, has also been charged with involuntary manslaughter. She faces trial this year.

Prosecutors previously dismissed charges against Baldwin based on evidence the hammer of the revolver might have been modified, allowing it to fire without the trigger being pulled.

(Reporting by Jasper Ward and Brad Brooks; Editing by Donna Bryson and Lisa Shumaker)