Alex Baldwin trial live: Witness testimony begins with Santa Fe deputy in actor’s involuntary manslaughter case

Video: Alex Baldwin spotted on the set of Rust

Opening statements began Wednesday in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Alex Baldwin, with prosecutors telling jurors the Hollywood star ignored gun safety before the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the set of the film Rust.

“When a person plays a fantasy game with a real gun, and that person disregards a cardinal rule of gun safety … people die,” Special Prosecutor Erlinda Johnson said in court in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The judge said the high-profile trial began Tuesday with jury selection and testimony is expected to last nine days.

Nearly three years ago, a rehearsal for a shooting scene for a Western film ended in tragedy when Baldwin’s hand-held prop gun went off, killing cinematographer Helena Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.

Baldwin, 66, has insisted he did not pull the trigger and did not know the gun contained a live bullet. He has claimed the shot went off accidentally.

He has been charged with a felony count of involuntary manslaughter and could face up to 18 months in prison if convicted.

Baldwin arrived at the courthouse with his wife Hilaria, his youngest child, and brother Stephen.

Earlier this year, the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to the maximum 18 months in prison.

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The deputy said Baldwin was instructed not to talk to others

Video footage played in court shows Baldwin smoking a cigarette while answering questions from LeFleur about the location of the two victims.

The deputy instructed Baldwin not to talk to others. He said he was concerned that witness statements about the incident could be misrepresented.

But prosecutors said that despite LeFleur’s instructions, Baldwin continued to talk about it.

Andrea Cavalier10 July 2024 19:09

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What to know about the Alex Baldwin lawsuit

Here are the essential things to know:

Andrea Cavalier10 July 2024 19:00

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Deputy’s bodycam footage reveals chaos of shooting on set

The case is being played in court with Santa Fe deputy Nicolas Lefluno.

It shows the chaos that ensued on set after Hutchins and Souza were shot.

LeFleur said when they arrived, people were “running everywhere” and Souza could be heard screaming in pain.

Baldwin sits at the defense table taking notes as the video plays.

Andrea Cavalier10 July 2024 18:32

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The state called the first witness – Deputy Nicholas LeFleur of Santa Fe

The prosecution called the first witness – Deputy Nicholas LeFleur of Santa Fe.

He was the first officer to arrive at the scene after the fatal shooting on set.

Andrea Cavalier10 July 2024 18:06

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Opening statements are over and the court is in recess

Opening statements in Baldwin’s trial have concluded and the court is now recessing for the morning.

Andrea Cavalier10 July 2024 17:38

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Defense says Baldwin was assured his gun was ‘cool’

Spiro told jurors that the cast and crew were assured multiple times that Baldwin’s gun was “cold.”

He explained to the jury that a cold gun doesn’t mean it has no bullets in it. “It means it doesn’t have a blank cartridge or even a dummy. It means it’s inert and can’t cause any harm. They can’t harm anybody,” he said.

Spiro also said that the atmosphere on set was calm that day.

“Nobody had any idea that this poisonous, toxic element had been put into the spell they were creating, but it happened,” he said. “It seeped into that place. It killed one wonderful person, injured another, and it changed lives forever.”

He then explained the roles of the people on set and placed the blame on armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and first assistant set director David Hall.

“Everybody has a role on a film set. The armorer makes the armor. The director directs. The actor acts,” he said. “They work in harmony, but their responsibility is divided.”

Andrea Cavalier10 July 2024 17:20

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‘Alec Baldwin did not commit any crime,’ defense says

Alex Spiro, one of Baldwin’s attorneys, is now speaking out.

He told jurors that the fatal shooting of Hutchins was an “unspeakable tragedy, but Alex Baldwin committed no crime.”

“You have to step back and remember what they were doing on those movie sets. Movies and magic have always had a deep connection… for many decades across the country,” he said.

Spiro focused on how a live bullet ended up on the Rust film set, insisting there was no evidence Baldwin had anything to do with the bullet entering the gun.

“He was an actor, acting, playing Harlan Rust,” he said. “An actor, playing a character, can act in ways that are lethal, that are not lethal on a movie set. These prime rules, they’re not prime rules on a movie set.”

Andrea Cavalier10 July 2024 16:52

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Prosecutors say Baldwin fired the shot.

Johnson told the jury they would see video footage of Baldwin using a gun on set during the trial.

“You will see video footage of multiple occasions when the defendant used this firearm on set, and each time he fired it, it functioned fine,” Johnson said.

“And in fact, you will hear evidence that the defendant himself admitted in December 2021 that there were no mechanical problems with this gun.”

This statement comes after Baldwin said he did not fire a gun the day Hutchins was shot.

Johnson also said the gun was tested repeatedly by an FBI forensic expert, which showed the gun had no malfunctions and was functioning properly.

Andrea Cavalier10 July 2024 16:48

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Baldwin failed to pass security check

Prosecutors told the jury that Baldwin regularly failed to perform safety checks with armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed on the set of “Rust.”

Johnson said Baldwin was filmed “running in, shooting a gun” during required gun safety training.

He also said he “didn’t want to humiliate” Gutierrez-Reed by checking him every time he was handed a gun.

“You will find that one of the bullets from that revolver was a real bullet, and the evidence will show that Ms. Gutierrez then handed the gun to the defendant,” Johnson said.

“And you will learn that, once again, the defendant failed to conduct a gun safety check with this firearms manufacturer.”

Andrea Cavalier10 July 2024 16:43

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Prosecutor says Baldwin asked for ‘the biggest gun’

Prosecutor Johnson said Baldwin asked for the “biggest gun” available for the film.

He told the jury during his opening that they would hear evidence that the firearm had been sold to Rust in “perfect” working condition.

Andrea Cavalier10 July 2024 16:31

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