Sobbing Rust armourer gets maximum sentence of 18 months for fatal shooting of cinematographer

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed called jury who convicted her ‘idiots’ during jailhouse phone calls

Graig Graziosi
Monday 15 April 2024 20:24 BST
Related video: ‘Rust’ Armorer Found Guilty Of Involuntary Manslaughter Over Shooting On The Set Of Upcoming Alec Baldwin Movie

The armourer from the film Rust sobbed as she was given the maximum 18 month-sentence on Monday.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, 26, dressed in prison overalls, broke down at her sentencing hearing in Santa Fe, New Mexico when her term was read.

In March, Gutierrez-Reed was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter last month over the 2021 death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. The 42-year-old was rehearsing a scene with the film’s producer and star Alec Baldwin when he drew a replica pistol and fired. But the gun contained a live round which hit Hutchins, mother of a young son, in the chest and killed her.

Earling in Monday’s hearing, Gutierrez-Reed listened to victim impact statements. Gutierrez-Reed maintained her composure throughout almost all of her trial, but was brought to tears numerous times as Hutchins’ loved ones explained in detail the pain they felt in the aftermath of the fatal shooting.

The family’s attorney, Gloria Allred, read a statement in court from Hutchins’ mother, Olga Solovey, who lives in Kyiv, Ukraine. Videos were also played of the family.

“Time does not heal, it simply prolongs my pain and suffering,” Allred said, on behalf of Ms Solovey. “I have hope that the guilty, those that are responsible for the death of my daughter, will be punished fairly and be sentenced justly. Justice must prevail.”

Olga Solovey, the mother of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, giving a victim impact statement from her home in Kiev, Ukraine, at the sentencing hearing of the film’s armourer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. (screengrab/CourtTV)

Joel Souza, the director on Rust, also addressed the court. Mr Souza was wounded on set when the bullet that killed Hutchins exited her body and hit him in the shoulder.

He said that he wished for Hutchins to still be alive and for all of the people affected by the shooting to be at “peace.”

“I want everyone damaged by Ms Reed's failures that day to find peace ... I want the pain to go away, I want to be the person I was before this happened, and above all I want Halyna to be back with her husband and son in the home she never got to live in,” he told the court.

Guttierez-Reed gave a statement to the court shortly before her sentencing, saying she hoped those affected by “this god-awful tragedy” found peace, and that she was thankful Mr Souza survived the incident. She also said Hutchins was and continues to be an inspiration to her.

She also complained that the media coverage of the shooting unfairly characterised her as an unrepentant “monster.”

Rust armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, during her sentencing hearing in Santa Fe, New Mexico (screengrab/CourtTV)

“I am saddened by the way the media sensationalised our traumatic tragedy and portrayed me as a complete monster, which has actually been the total opposite of what's been in my heart,” she said. “The jury has found me in part at fault for this god-awful tragedy, but that doesn't make me a monster, that makes me human.”

Gutierrez-Reed’s father and famed Hollywood armourer, Thell Reed, also gave a brief statement. He said the while the shooting was a “horrible tragedy for that wonderful lady,” that it would also be a “tragedy to put my daughter Hannah in a penitentiary for that”. He insisted that it was not Gutierrez-Reed’s fault that the live rounds ended up in Baldwin’s gun.

Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer was not moved by Gutierrez-Reed’s statement and noted jailhouse phone conversations she had after she was convicted as evidence that she had not taken accountability for her role in Hutchins’ death.

"While you've heard [Gutierrez-Reed’s] concerns that she'll never work again as an armourer ... have her concerns changed? No,” the judge said. “Here's what she says: this 'whole thing has been a character attack' on her. Just recently in her allocution, 'I'm not a monster.'"

She also mentioned that Gutierrez-Reed was complaining in jailhouse calls that the trial was taking up too much of her life, and that it was "messing up her modeling career". The judge further pointed out that Gutierrez-Reed said on the phone that "people have accidents" and that it's an "unfortunate part of life", and that she should not be sent to prison over an accident.

"A conditional discharge is not appropriate," the judge said, before sentencing her to the max of 18 months in a women's correctional facility.

The film’s producer and lead start, Baldwin, will go to trial in July on involuntary manslaughter charges relating to Hutchins’ death.

Alec Baldwin in costume on the set of Rust. He faces involuntary manslaughter charges in the shooting death of the film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins (Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office)

Prosecutors had asked that Gutierrez-Reed spend 18 months behind bars, the longest sentence possible.

On set, Gutierrez-Reed’s job was to make sure all firearms and ammunition were accounted for, controlled, and safely handled.

The prosecutors' case centered on Gutierrez-Reed's lack of professionalism when compared to other Hollywood armourers. She routinely left firearms and ammunition lying around the set, prosecutors said, describing her work as “sloppy”. The jury was shown videos of numerous instances in which firearms were not being handled properly by actors. One clip showed Gutierrez-Reed holding a shotgun with the barrel pointed up at her own head.

Witnesses who worked on the set testified that her work station was less organised than other armourers they’d worked with in the past.

Ross Addiego, who worked as a dolly grip on Rust, told the court that he had worked with at least a dozen other armourers during his career and described them as “uptight” and “anal retentive” because they typically hold the lives of others in their hands. By contrast, he said Gutierez-Reed was “less professional” than those armourers, noting that he would see ammunition and gunbelts lying around the set unsecured.

“She wasn’t necessarily as serious or professional as I am accustomed to with the other armourers that I’m familiar with,” Mr Addiego testified. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen an armourer pull loose ammo out of a fanny pack.”

Baldwin Set Shooting (Santa Fe New Mexican)

Her defence had argued that Baldwin and the film's production team used Gutierrez-Reed as a scapegoat. They argued that it was Baldwin who pulled the trigger, and that his influence created a rushed, dangerous climate on set. They added that Gutierrez-Reed was doing her best to keep up but was thwarted by unrealistic expectations from the production team.

“You’re going hear again Mr Baldwin — one of the lead producers, head actor in the movie, who really controlled the set — you’re going to hear that he violated some of the most basic gun-safety rules you can ever learn,” Gutierrez-Reed’s defence attorney, Jason Bowles said during his opening arguments.

“From a young age, we all learn you don’t point a gun at somebody ever unless you want to shoot them. You treat all guns as loaded, and you keep your finger out of the trigger until you’re ready to shoot. [Baldwin] violated all those.”

In calls from jail made to her mother, boyfriend and her attorney’s paralegal, Gutierrez-Reed has blamed Hutchin’s death on the doctor and paramedics on set.

She also claimed that the judge and special prosecutor’s office conspired against her and called the jurors who convicted her "idiots" and "a**holes," according to prosecutors’ filings on Friday.

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