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Rust armourer sentenced to 18 months over fatal on-set shooting by Alec Baldwin

A movie weapons supervisor was sentenced to 18 months in prison over the fatal shooting of a cinematographer by Alec Baldwin on the set of the western film Rust. The sentence was delivered at a Monday hearing in a New Mexico state court.

Movie armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in March over the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. She has been held for more than a month at a county jail on the outskirts of Santa Fe.

Baldwin, the lead actor and co-producer for Rust, was pointing a gun at Hutchins when the revolver went off, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

Baldwin has pleaded not guilty to a charge of involuntary manslaughter in Hutchins’s death. He is scheduled for trial in July at a courthouse in Santa Fe.

The sentence against Gutierrez-Reed was delivered by New Mexico Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer, who is also overseeing proceedings against Baldwin.

WATCH | Rust Armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed convicted in fatal on-set shooting: 

Armourer for Alec Baldwin movie Rust convicted in deadly on-set shooting of cinematographer

Wednesday, March 6 – A jury has convicted a movie weapons supervisor of involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer by actor Alec Baldwin during a rehearsal on the set of the Western movie Rust. Plus, Michael Spavor reaches a settlement with the Canadian government over his detention in China.

Prosecutors blamed Gutierrez-Reed for unwittingly bringing live ammunition onto the set of Rust, where it was expressly prohibited, and for failing to follow basic gun safety protocols. After a two-week trial, a jury deliberated for about three hours in reaching its verdict.

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At her sentencing hearing Monday, Gutierrez-Reed teared up as Hutchins’s agent, Craig Mizrahi, spoke about the cinematographer’s creativity and described her as a rising star in Hollywood. He said the chain of events leading to Hutchins’s death would have been broken had the armourer been doing her job.

Friends and family, including Souza, told the court they were seeking justice for the cinematographer’s death. They said she was “a bright beam of light,” describing her as courageous, tenacious and compassionate.

Los Angeles-based lawyer Gloria Allred read a statement by Hutchins’s mother, Olga Solovey, who said her life had been split in two. She went on to say that time didn’t heal, but rather it only prolonged her pain and suffering. A video of a tearful Solovey, who lives in Ukraine, was also played for the court.

“It’s the hardest thing to lose a child. There’s no words to describe,” Solovey said in her native language.

Courtroom arguments

Defence lawyers for Gutierrez-Reed requested leniency in sentencing — including a possible conditional discharge that would avoid further jail time and leave an adjudication of guilt off her record if certain conditions are met.

Gutierrez-Reed was acquitted at trial of allegations she tampered with evidence in the Rust investigation. She also has pleaded not guilty to a separate felony charge that she allegedly carried a gun into a bar in Santa Fe where firearms are prohibited.

Defence attorneys have highlighted her relatively young age “and the devastating effect a felony will have on her life going forward.”

They say the 26-year-old will forever be affected negatively by intense publicity associated with her prosecution in parallel with an A-list actor, and has suffered from anxiety, fear and depression as a result.

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Special prosecutor Kari Morrissey urged the judge to impose the maximum prison sentence and designate Gutierrez-Reed as a “serious violent offender” to limit her eligibility for a sentence reduction later, describing the defendant’s behaviour on the set of Rust as exceptionally reckless.

Morrissey told the judge Monday that she reviewed nearly 200 phone calls that Gutierrez-Reed had made from jail over the last month. She said she was hoping there would be a moment when the defendant would take responsibility for what happened or express genuine remorse.

“That moment has never come,” Morrissey said. “Ms. Gutierrez continues to refuse to accept responsibility for her role in the death of Halyna Hutchins.”

Gutierrez-Reed listens to closing arguments in her trial at district court on March 6 in Santa Fe, N.M. (Luis Sánchez Saturno/Getty Images)

Parallel proceedings

Rust assistant director and safety co-ordinator Dave Halls pleaded no contest to negligent handling of a firearm last year and completed a sentence of six months unsupervised probation.

Rust props master Sarah Zachry, who shared some responsibilities over firearms on the set of Rust, signed an agreement with prosecutors to avoid prosecution in return for her co-operation.

Written testimonials in favour of leniency included letters from Gutierrez-Reed’s childhood friend and romantic partner Sean Kridelbaugh, who said Gutierrez-Reed cries constantly due to her remorse over the shooting. He went on to say that further incarceration would interfere with efforts to care for a relative with cancer.

Other friends and former colleagues urged the judge to emphasize rehabilitation over punishment in the sentencing.

The pending firearms charge against Gutierrez-Reed stems from an incident at a bar in downtown Santa Fe, days before she was hired to work as the armourer on Rust

Prosecutors say investigations into the fatal shooting led to the discovery of a video in which Gutierrez-Reed filmed herself carrying a firearm into the bar, while defence attorneys allege vindictive prosecution.

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