Grand jury to decide on new manslaughter charges against Alec Baldwin
A grand jury will decide whether Alec Baldwin should face new charges over the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on a film set, US prosecutors said Tuesday.
Baldwin was holding a Colt. 45 during rehearsals for low-budget Western ‘Rust’ in New Mexico when it discharged, killing Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza in October 2021.
Manslaughter charges against Baldwin -- an actor and producer on the film -- were dropped in April, due to what prosecutors called "new facts" which demanded "further investigation and forensic analysis," but an investigation into the incident remained active.
"After extensive investigation over the past several months, additional facts have come to light that we believe show Mr Baldwin has criminal culpability in the death of Halyna Hutchins and the shooting of Joel Souza," prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis said Tuesday.
"We believe the appropriate course of action is to permit a panel of New Mexico citizens to determine from here whether Mr Baldwin should be held over for criminal trial."
In the United States, a grand jury is a group of citizens convened to assess evidence and decide whether there is enough evidence of criminality -- or probable cause -- to justify putting an individual on trial.
The case will be presented to the grand jury within the next two months. Baldwin has repeatedly denied any responsibility for the shooting, and said that he did not pull the gun's trigger.
But forensic gun experts hired by the prosecutors concluded that Baldwin must have applied some pressure to the trigger in order for the gun to fire. A criminal case is ongoing against the movie's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed.
Gutierrez-Reed has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering charges. Earlier this month, producers of the movie were ordered to hand over documents including Baldwin's financial contracts.
Prosecutors at the time told a judge that information including how "Mr Baldwin himself benefits financially from keeping production costs low" could be relevant to the investigation. Baldwin and fellow producers are also facing civil proceedings from around a dozen plaintiffs over the death.