Halyna Hutchins’ family welcomes conviction of Rust armourer for fatal set shooting

Court hears how Hannah Gutierrez-Reed ‘failed to maintain firearms safety, making a fatal accident willful and foreseeable’

Namita Singh
Thursday 07 March 2024 11:05 GMT
Related: Rust armorer was ’worried about her career’ after death of Halyna Hutchins

The family of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins welcomed the manslaughter conviction of the film’s weapons supervisor in her fatal shooting by actor Alec Baldwin.

On Wednesday, a jury found movie armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed guilty of causing the death of Hutchins after an assistant director last year pleaded no contest to negligent handling of a firearm.

Responding to the verdict, the parents and sister of the late cinematographer said they “always wanted everyone who is responsible for Halyna’s death to be held accountable”.

“Today was the first trial and conviction in the criminal justice process,” said Hutchins’ parents, Olga Solovey and Anatolli Androsovych, and her sister, Svetlana Zemko, in a statement issued through their attorney.

“We are satisfied that the jury, based on the evidence, found Hannah Gutierrez-Reed guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for her part in the taking of Halyna’s life.

‌”We look forward to the justice system continuing to make sure that everyone else who is responsible for Halyna’s death is required to face the legal consequences for their actions,” they said, according to their lawyers  Gloria Allred and John Carpenter.

Gutierrez-Reed also had faced a second charge of tampering with evidence, stemming from accusations that she handed a small bag of possible narcotics to another crew member after the shooting to avoid detection. She was found not guilty on that count.

Immediately after the verdict was read in court, the judge ordered the 26-year-old armorer placed into the custody of deputies. Lead attorney Jason Bowles said afterward that Gutierrez-Reed will appeal the conviction, which carries a penalty of up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Santa Fe-based state district court Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer did not immediately set a sentencing date.

Baldwin, the lead actor and a co-producer on Rust, was indicted by a grand jury in January on a charge of involuntary manslaughter. He was pointing a gun at Hutchins on a movie set outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, when the gun went off, killing the cinematographer and wounding director Joel Souza. He will face trial in July, and has pleaded not guilty.

In her closing arguments, prosecutor Kari Morrissey described "constant, never-ending safety failures" on the set of Rust and Gutierrez-Reed’s "astonishing lack of diligence" with gun safety.

"We end exactly where we began – in the pursuit of justice for Halyna Hutchins," Ms Morrissey told jurors. "Hannah Gutierrez failed to maintain firearms safety, making a fatal accident willful and foreseeable."

Prosecutors also contended that the armorer repeatedly skipped or skimped on standard gun-safety protocols that might have detected the live rounds on set.

"This was a game of Russian roulette every time an actor had a gun with dummies," Ms Morrissey said.

Inside the courtroom on Wednesday, Gutierrez-Reed’s mother reacted with dismay at the conviction, bursting into tears and cursing the proceedings as her daughter was led away.

Defence attorneys told jurors that the problems on the set extended far beyond Gutierrez-Reed’s control, including the mishandling of weapons by Baldwin, citing sanctions and findings by state workplace safety investigators.

The defence also cast doubt on accusations that Gutierrez-Reed brought live rounds to the set and said an Albuquerque-based ammunition supplier was never fully investigated.

Juror Alberto Sanchez said Gutierrez-Reed could have paused work on the set to address safety issues. Jurors concluded she brought live ammunition on set, whether she knew it or not, Mr Sanchez said outside of court after jurors were dismissed.

"Pretty much it was just that (she) never did the safety checks," said Mr Sanchez, whose work nearby in Los Alamos has involved safety decisions. "Never checked the rounds, to pull them out, to shake them. I mean, if she’d have done that this wouldn’t have happened."

Additional reporting by agencies

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in