Alec Baldwin trial coverage: Day 1 of 'Rust' involuntary manslaughter case takes shape with opening statements, witness testimony

The Emmy-winning actor is charged with involuntary manslaughter and has pleaded not guilty.

Alec Baldwin pictured during a break his trial in Santa Fe County District Court on July 10, 2024, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. (Ross D. Franklin / POOL / AFP via Getty Images)

Alec Baldwin's criminal trial is underway in Santa Fe, N.M. Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed in October 2021 when a gun Baldwin was holding discharged. The Emmy-winning actor is charged with involuntary manslaughter and has pleaded not guilty. He has maintained that he did not pull the trigger.

Baldwin scored a huge pretrial victory on Monday when the judge ruled that his role as a producer of the Western film is irrelevant. While Baldwin the actor will stand trial, prosecutors cannot argue that his role as a producer made him more culpable in Hutchins's death.

Baldwin faces up to 18 months in prison if convicted. Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was convicted on the same charge of involuntary manslaughter by a jury in March and the following month was given the maximum sentence. Opening statements in Baldwin's trial began on Wednesday.

Our live coverage of the trial has ended. Catch up with the day's latest developments in the blog below.

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  • LeFleur concludes testimony

    Nicholas LeFleur
    Law enforcement officer Nicholas LeFleur testifies during actor Alec Baldwin's hearing on Wednesday. (Ross D. Franklin/Pool/AP)

    Testimony resumed with Nicholas LeFleur on the stand. The defense finished cross-examining the witness, special prosecutor Kari Morrissey asked him a few more questions during redirect, and he stepped down from the witness stand.

  • Court resumes after lunch with an extended sidebar

    Lunch break is over, but the attorneys are back speaking with the judge for yet another sidebar.

  • First witness grilled by Baldwin's defense team

    Law enforcement officer Nicholas LeFleur testifies during actor Alec Baldwin's hearing at Santa Fe County District Court.
    Law enforcement officer Nicholas LeFleur testifies during actor Alec Baldwin's hearing at Santa Fe County District Court. (Ross D. Franklin/Getty Images)

    Santa Fe police officer Nicholas LeFleur, one of the first people to respond to the shooting, is the state's first witness. Prosecutors showed body camera footage from set showing the aftermath of the accident.

    "I was holding the gun," Baldwin is heard telling LeFleur in the video.

    LeFleur said he stood with Baldwin, who was detained as the set was a crime scene, and identified the actor in the courtroom.

    The defense went after LeFleur during cross-examination for omitting the word "accident" when speaking about the incident on the stand, insinuating it was intentional after meeting with prosecutors before trial.

    Baldwin's lawyer Alex Spiro began to grill LeFleur for admitting he made "mistakes" on scene. Prosecutors objected and court was adjourned for lunch.

  • Court breaks for lunch

    The judge announced a break for lunch, asking the jury to reconvene at 1 p.m. MT — which is 3 p.m. ET and 12 p.m. PT.

  • What is involuntary manslaughter?

    The movie set of Rust, with several vehicles parked around a wooden church.
    The movie set of "Rust," at Bonanza Creek Ranch, where Hutchins was killed. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

    Involuntary manslaughter is "the unintentional killing of a person while committing a misdemeanor criminal offense," criminal defense lawyer Lauren Johnson-Norris explains to Yahoo Entertainment.

    "In Baldwin's case, the misdemeanor offense alleged is the negligent use of a firearm. Baldwin is alleged to have endangered the safety of Hutchins by handling or using that firearm in a negligent manner," she continues. "The prosecution must prove that Baldwin's failure to check that the firearm [did not have a live round] before firing it was negligent."

  • Baldwin takes notes as footage of first responders attending to Hutchins plays

    As prosecution plays footage from the chaotic aftermath of the shooting on the Rust set, Baldwin's eyes have been locked on the monitor at the defendant's table. He looked away only to take notes.

    As police officer Nicholas LeFleur continues his testimony, footage from his lapel camera from that day played in court. It showed the lifesaving efforts first responders made to save Hutchins and Joel Souza. Hutchins had to temporarily be taken to an ambulance for care as they waited for a medical helicopter to arrive.

    Footage also showed LeFleur trying to help secure a crime scene flooded with more than 100 people. He said the scene was "challenging," with a lot of moving parts.

  • Prosecutors call 1st witness

    The prosecution has called its first witness: Nicholas LeFleur, an officer with the Santa Fe Police Department.

    At the time of the shooting, LeFleur was working as a deputy for the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office and responded to the Bonanza Creek Ranch after the 911 call. Footage from his lapel camera was played in court. He made the call for the medical helicopter to airlift Hutchins to the hospital.

  • Defense claims prosecutors 'can't prove their high-profile homicide case'

    The defense team went back to the fact that the gun was destroyed weeks before trial.

    "[The state] never solved the question of the lethal bullet; they destroyed the gun and all they were left with was Alec Baldwin and the movie they intend to put on," Baldwin's attorney Alex Spiro said.

    "There will not be one witness, not one shred of evidence in this trial that Alec knew or should have known the gun was loaded with a live round. So they can't prove their high-profile homicide case."

  • Baldwin's wife comforts him in court

    Alec Baldwin speaks with his wife, Hilaria Baldwin, during his hearing at Santa Fe County District Court on July 10.
    Alec Baldwin speaks with his wife, Hilaria Baldwin, during his hearing at Santa Fe County District Court on July 10. (Ross D. Franklin Getty Images)

    Baldwin's wife, Hilaria Baldwin, is present with other family members and was photographed comforting him in the courtroom.

    Hilaria Baldwin, who shares seven children with the actor, stood near the defense table and rested her hand on his cheek during a brief exchange. She has been seated next to his brother Stephen Baldwin.

  • Evidence presented will show Baldwin 'in shocking grief'

    It appears the court will hear calls and statements from Baldwin from immediately after the tragedy.

    "You're going to hear a man in shocking grief," Spiro, the actor's lawyer, said in opening statements. "A father, an artist, worried about his family. On one of the calls he's going to meet with the decedent's family, the Hutchins family, and he's upset about that. He will talk to law enforcement, he will call them. He doesn't need a lawyer, he didn't commit a crime. He will call them and offer to meet and speak over and over again."

  • Defense says Baldwin was 'an actor handling a prop'

    Baldwin's defense team said he was merely an actor handling a prop he was told was safe.

    "It was obviously a tragic accident, but Alec committed no homicide," his attorney Alex Spiro said in opening statements. "Alec took the gun from those charged with its safety. He did not tamper. He did not load it himself. He did not leave it unattended. It completed his costume and his character. It was an actor handling a prop and integrating it into the character of Harlan Rust."

    He said Baldwin's mind was somewhere else — in another "century" as he brought to life his character in the Western film — and he relied on the "dedicated professional there off-camera whose sole sacred responsibility was that prop's safety," armorer Gutierrez-Reed, as well as safety coordinator Halls, who "let them down."

    Spiro made many references to Baldwin being "an actor," including saying, "Mr. Baldwin was like every other actor. He goes 'bang, bang' in movies. He's told when guns are cold, or not. He rehearses and acts as his character. Safety proceeds before the actor. Once the actor has the prop gun, he can handle it however a person he's acting as would. A properly clear gun can't hurt anybody."

  • 'Alec committed no homicide'

    During opening statements, Baldwin's defense lawyer is hammering home the idea that the actor cannot be culpable because he had "nothing to do with" how a "lethal bullet" got onto the set.

    "The gun was double-checked, verified it was a cold gun. Not an actor's responsibility to check; safety was ensured before," Spiro said.

    "The gun went off during the rehearsal. No one saw [Alec] intentionally pull the trigger," Spiro continued. "It was obviously a tragic accident, but Alec committed no homicide. Alec took the gun from those charged with its safety. He did not tamper with it. He did not load it himself. He did not leave it unattended. ... It was an actor handling a prop."

  • Defense calls out David Halls, the head of safety, in opening remarks

    David Halls seated at a microphone.
    David Halls testifies during Hannah Gutierrez-Reed's involuntary manslaughter trial on Feb. 29. (Gabriela Campos/Santa Fe New Mexican via AP, Pool/File)

    As legal experts predicted to Yahoo Entertainment, Baldwin's defense team is blaming others on set for Hutchins's death and how a live round of ammunition got into the actor's prop gun.

    The actor's defense attorney Alex Spiro specifically called out first assistant director David Halls, who they claim declared the gun "cold" multiple times before handing it to Baldwin.

    "Cold guns can't hurt people, it's impossible," Spiro told the jury, in that a "cold gun" means "all clear to go."

    Halls denied calling it a "cold gun" in a deposition last year. ("I don't have any recollection of me saying that.")

    Halls took a plea deal early on in the investigation. He received six months unsupervised probation for a misdemeanor violation of negligently handling a firearm. He's expected to testify during Baldwin's trial.

  • Prosecutor argues Baldwin acted 'in reckless disregard' for Hutchins's safety

    Prosecutor Johnson concluded her opening statements by saying that at the end of the trial, the jury will be "convinced beyond a reasonable doubt" that the gun Baldwin had asked to be assigned "worked perfectly fine" and that one of the main problems on the day of the shooting was that the actor didn't do a gun safety check with the "inexperienced" armorer, he pointed the gun at a human being, cocked the hammer and pulled the trigger "in reckless disregard for Miss Hutchins's safety."

    She said "the only true and just verdict in this case" is a verdict of guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

  • Prosecutor says Baldwin requested 'biggest gun available'

    Per a Court TV livestream of the proceedings, prosecutor Erlinda Ocampo Johnson also said in opening statements that Baldwin "requested to be assigned the biggest gun available" for the production.

    She told the jury that through expert testimony, they would learn that the "prop gun," a Colt .45 "Peacemaker" revolver, is a "real gun. It's not a toy. It's not made of rubber. It's a real gun."

  • Prosecutor says Baldwin 'mishandled' gun on set

    During opening statements, prosecutor Erlinda Ocampo Johnson told the jury they will hear evidence that Baldwin "mishandled" the gun on the set.

    "You will see him using this gun as a pointer to point at people, to point at things," she said. "You will see him cock the hammer when he's not supposed to. ... You will see him put his finger on the trigger when his finger is not supposed to be on the trigger. You will hear about numerous breaches of firearm safety with this defendant and this use of this firearm."

  • Baldwin supported by wife, brother in court

    Hilaria and Stephen Baldwin in court on July 10. (Court TV)
    Hilaria and Stephen Baldwin in court on July 10. (Court TV)

    As the trial officially starts, Alec Baldwin is supported in court by members of his famous family.

    Seated behind him at the defendant's table are his wife, Hilaria, and his brother Stephen.

  • Jurors will not be filmed

    "This trial is being filmed, but you are not being filmed and you will not be filmed at all," Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer told jurors on Wednesday.

  • What Hilaria has said about the tragedy

    Hilaria declared her family is "not OK" after Hutchins's death.

    "We can't be OK. No one is OK. It was, and is, a tragedy that nobody could ever have imagined," she said in Dec. 2022. "I mean, the loss of her. Halyna, her son, a little son, her family, her co-workers, the people who loved her, her fans. I mean, she was an incredible, incredible woman in so many different ways."

    Hilaria also expressed concern for her husband.

    "I worry about him," she continued. "I mean, can you imagine? Nobody can. There was so much confusion to understand what had happened."

    The author said telling their older kids what happened was "awful."

  • Baldwin arrives at the courthouse

    Alec Baldwin surrounded by photographers.
    Alec Baldwin arrives at court on Wednesday. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

    Baldwin has arrived at the courthouse for opening statements in his trial.

  • Jurors won't hear about Baldwin’s role as 'Rust' producer

    Baldwin had duel roles on Rust — as the film's star as well as a producer — but the jury will not be informed about the latter.

    During a pre-trial hearing, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer said the focus of the trial will be on Baldwin's conduct as an actor. The prosecutors were hoping to argue that Baldwin, as a producer, had even more responsibility for any unsafe conditions on the set.

    Baldwin's legal team argued that discussing his role as a producer would confuse the issues in the case, which Sommer agreed with. She also ruled that a video of Baldwin yelling at the crew and rushing the crew will be omitted from the trial as it was not relevant to the case.

  • Legal experts weigh in on whether Baldwin should testify — and other burning questions

    Alec Baldwin listens to testimony during a pretrial hearing.
    Alec Baldwin listens to testimony during a pretrial hearing on Monday. (Ross D. Franklin/Pool via Reuters)

    Will Baldwin testify in his own defense?

    "The jury will want to hear from him," celebrity attorney Chris Melcher told Yahoo Entertainment. "Since he is a famous person, there could be a star effect where the jury gives him the benefit of the doubt."

    We consulted legal experts to answer burning questions related to Baldwin's trial — including what the film armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed's conviction means for his case — which you can read here.

  • Baldwin's wife Hilaria supports him in court, brings their youngest child

    Actor Alec Baldwin and his wife, Hilaria Baldwin, holding a baby, get out of a vehicle.
    Alec Baldwin arrives at court July 9 with wife Hilaria Baldwin and their youngest child, Ilaria. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

    Baldwin's support system during this case includes his wife of 12 years, Hilaria.

    Hilaria, who has seven children with the actor, arrived to court with him on July 9 for jury selection. They were accompanied by at least one of their seven children — youngest daughter, Ilaria, 1. (Baldwin also has an adult daughter with ex-wife Kim Basinger.)

    In June, TLC announced that the Baldwins would be starring in a TLC reality show for the network, set to premiere in 2025.

  • Trial kicks off

    Actor Alec Baldwin walking outside the courthouse amid reporters.
    Alec Baldwin outside the courthouse on Wednesday. (Ramsay de Give/Reuters)

    Alec Baldwin's involuntary manslaughter trial begins Wednesday in Santa Fe, N.M.

    We have a breakdown of the key players who will be involved in the trial. It starts with the judge, Mary Marlowe Sommer, the legal teams as well as potential witnesses, including Rust director Joel Souza, who was injured during the accidental shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in October 2021.

    We’ve had a preview of this trial because the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in March and given the maximum sentence of 18 months in prison.