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‘Rust’ Prosecutors Object To Armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed’s Bid For A New Trial

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“Rust” prosecutors are attempting to stop armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed from getting a new trial.

Earlier this month, the rookie armorer, who had only served on one movie set before “Rust,” was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

It only took a jury less than three hours to get it overturned; however, prosecutors for the state of New Mexico are attempting to stop her from obtaining a new trial and a release from jail.

‘Rust’ Armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed May Not Be Able To Obtain A New Trial

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On October 21, 2021, a gun held by actor Alec Baldwin went off, striking both cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and director Joel Souza, who was standing directly behind her. Souza was hospitalized as a result of the incident; Hutchins was fatally wounded and passed away en route to a medical treatment center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In January 2023, both Alec Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed were charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. In April 2023, charges against Baldwin were dropped without prejudice pending further review of the gun. After a FBI report concluded that the trigger had to be pulled for the gun to go off, charges were refiled against the “30 Rock” actor in January 2024, to which he entered a plea of not guilty.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed Was Charged With Tampering With Evidence

Armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed seen after fatal Rust shooting
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While deliberating whether or not to charge Baldwin in the summer of 2023, prosecutors slapped Hannah Gutierrez-Reed with a new charge of tampering with evidence. During her trial, a witness from the “Rust” set came forward to say that Gutierrez-Reed gave her a bag of white powder on the day that Hutchins was killed.

The woman, who described herself as a recovered addict, said that she identified the white powder of cocaine and threw it away. She told the jury she never brought up the white powder because she did not want to get involved with the police investigation.

Despite allegations that the white powder was cocaine and might have left the rookie armorer “impaired” on set, the bag of white powder was never found or tested. As such, a jury acquitted her of a single charge of tampering with evidence.

‘Rust’ Lawyers Argue That Jury Instructions Were Unclear

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armourer on the set of Alec Baldwin movie Rust, where cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot dead, appears in police bodycam footage taken shortly after the fatal shooting in October 2021. She can be seen talking to police and can be heard telling an officer: “I just f****d up my whole entire career.” Bodycam footage captured on the New Mexico set shows Gutierrez-Reed sitting in the back of a police car before being escorted to a toilet by a female officer. The footage begins with Gutierrez-Reed answering a different officer’s questions. Gutierrez-Reed - who was in charge of weapons and ammunition on the set - first confirmed her place of work before responding to a question about her job title. When asked by a cop: “What’s your place of employment?” she responded, “Here”. The officer then asked: “What’s your job?” to which Gutierrez-Reed replied, “I’m the armourer, or at least I was.” Shortly afterwards, a female cop approaches the car Gutierrez-Reed is sitting in, saying: “Hi, you need to use the restroom?” Gutierrez-Reed confirms that she does, and the pair start walking across the film’s set towards the toilets. Gutierrez-Reed can be heard saying: “Welcome to the worst day of my life”, before adding: “I can’t believe Alec Baldwin was holding the gun, that’s so f****d.” Once in the bathroom, Gutierrez-Reed states: “I just want to get the f**k out of here and never show my face in this industry again. “I'm the only female armourer in the game and I just f****d up my whole entire career." She later refers to herself as a "f*****g failure." Files related to the ongoing investigation were released by Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office earlier this week. 27 Apr 2022 Pictured: Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armourer on the set of movie Rust, seen in police bodycam footage. Photo credit: Santa Fe County Sheriff/MEGA TheMegaAgency.com +1 888 505 6342 (Mega Agency TagID: MEGA851773_010.jpg) (Photo via Mega Agency)
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Attorneys for former “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, Jason Bowles, and Monica Barreras, argued last week that the armorer deserves a new trial because the jury instructions were unclear, citing a New Mexico Supreme Court decision that involved two daycare workers.

The hiccup hangs on the “and/or” conjunction, which lawyer Jason Bowles argues might not have been clear to a jury during their deliberation. The jury was asked to find that the armorer loaded live ammunition into the gun, “and/or” that she failed to properly check the ammunition.

However, in new court documents obtained by The Blast, Santa Fe prosecutors noted that the daycare death lawsuit where the jury was instructed “A, B, and/or C” which was confusing and got thrown out. The note that Gutierrez-Reed’s case was simpler: “A and/or B” and either A, B, or a combination of A and B was enough to convict.

New Mexico Prosecutors Reject Attempt At A New Trial Due To Grammar

Armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed seen after fatal Rust shooting
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According to the new court documents, the prosecutors note that “The instruction at issue states, ‘Hannah Gutierrez loaded live ammunition into a firearm intended to contain only inert ammunition, and/or Hannah Gutierrez failed to perform an adequate safety check of the ammunition she loaded into the firearm(.)’”

“This simple instruction did not require much effort for the jury to understand,” the filing states. “The jury could have found that the defendant committed one act or the other, both, or neither. The inquiry was straightforward and did not require complicated parsing of syntax, such as requiring the jury to decide between multiple permutations of several acts, as was the case in Taylor,” referring to the daycare lawsuit.

“This instruction on its face is clear and concise. It would not result in a reasonable juror or jury being confused as to which acts are necessary to convict the defendant,” the filing adds. “There are but two options and the instructions make clear the jury could have selected one or the other, both, or neither. This instruction is not confusing and not remotely similar to the complex instruction the Taylor court found to be unlawful.”

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed Faces 18 Months Behind Bars

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed poses for mugshot after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 'Rust' shooting trial
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The filing goes on to state, “The instructions used at defendant’s trial were neither confusing nor legally insufficient,” noting that while “the Court makes clear that the use of ‘and/or’ should be avoided in jury instructions, the test for determining whether instructions are legally insufficient is far more complex.”

As such, they are requesting that the court deny Hannah Gutierrez-Reed’s emergency motion for a new trial and release. It is clear what the judge will decide, but it seems unlikely that the rookie armorer will be granted a new trial given the delay from its original December 2023 scheduled date.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed is currently being held in the Santa Fe County Detention Center and faces up to 18 months behind bars at her sentencing, which is scheduled to be held on April 9, 2024, if a judge does not accept her bid for a new trial.

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