Alec Baldwin’s Trial for Involuntary Manslaughter Underway: Witnesses Take the Stand

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The involuntary manslaughter trial of actor Alec Baldwin got underway on Wednesday, nearly three years after he fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film Rust in New Mexico. The defense and prosecution began cross-examining the trial’s first witnesses, including law enforcement officers who responded to the incident.

The first witness to be cross-examined by defense attorney Alex Spiro was Santa Fe, New Mexico, Officer Nicholas Lefleur, whose body camera footage captured Baldwin discussing what happened to Hutchins and director Joel Souza with film crew members. In the footage, Baldwin can be seen admitting to holding the gun.

Spiro told jurors that Baldwin believed the gun was a “cold gun” – one that was unloaded and checked by safety experts working on the film. However, prosecutor Erlinda Johnson disputed this claim, accusing Baldwin of playing “make-believe with a real gun” and calling on jurors to deliver justice for Hutchins.

The second witness, retired Lt. Timoteo Benavidez, was one of the officers responding to the incident and securing the crime scene amidst a crowd of around 200 people. Benavidez’s body camera footage showed his conversation with film armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who was visibly upset and crying while saying “sorry” multiple times. Gutierrez-Reed was previously found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

The third witness called to testify was Joseph Lujan, a detective with the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, who testified to seeing doctors remove a projectile from Souza’s shoulder at the hospital.

Baldwin was seen intently watching the testimony and body camera footage evidence being shown to jurors, while his wife, Hilaria, quietly sat behind him.

In a pre-trial filing, prosecutors claimed that Baldwin had “flouted security protocols” and was engaged in “horseplay with his gun”. They also alleged that he had rushed the armorer to reload and crew members to work at a faster pace, and that he was inattentive during firearms training conducted by Gutierrez-Reed, distracted by texting and making videos for his family.

Baldwin arrived at the courthouse on Tuesday, making a public scene with his wife and their youngest child. Journalist Emily Miller described the scene as a “publicity stunt” that “backfired badly”, as Baldwin’s attempts to get his baby’s attention were met with the child’s screams and Baldwin’s wife handing the baby to the nanny.

The Baldwins are currently filming their family reality show, The Baldwins, as Baldwin goes through the trial. Sources involved in the show are reportedly planning for the possibility of a conviction.

Baldwin has pleaded not guilty and the trial is expected to last 10 days. If convicted, he could face up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Heather Hunter
Heather Hunter
Contributor. Heather is an award-winning radio, television and film producer and previously wrote for The Daily Caller and LifeZette.

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