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‘Rust’ Manslaughter Defense Rests After Less Than 2 Weeks, Armorer Chooses Not to Testify

The manslaughter case of “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was on its way to a New Mexico jury on Wednesday after her defense team rested its case without calling the 25-year-old to testify on her own behalf.

Testimony wrapped after less than the two full weeks as expected. After one final defense expert witness gave his testimony, Judge Mary Sommer began giving the jury explicit deliberation instructions before closing arguments began.

The panel was expected to begin deliberating immediately after both sides gave their closing statements Wednesday.

“We end exactly where we began – in pursuit of justice for Halyna Hutchins,” special prosecutor Kari Morrissey said to open her final argument.

Gutierrez-Reed faces charges of involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering, with a potential prison sentence of up to three years. The trial began last month in New Mexico.

“Ms. Gutierrez failed to maintain proper firearm safety – repeatedly,” Morrisey said, emphasizing that the deadly round wasn’t the only time the cast and crew of the low-budget western was put in danger. “This case is about constant, never-ending safety failures that resulted in the death of a human being, and nearly killed another.”

Morrissey showed several still images taken from set videos that the jury had seen previously, noting several times when a muzzle was aimed directly at someone. “Gun pointed at a minor child,” she said, as an image of a child actor flashed onscreen.

Alec Baldwin, who accidentally fired the gun that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on October 21, 2021, is expected to also stand trial later this summer on separate manslaughter charges.

More to come …

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