David Halls, the first assistant director on “Rust,” pleaded no charges on Friday for negligent use of a deadly weapon, making him the first person to be held accountable for the shooting death of the film’s cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins.
Halls, the film’s security coordinator, appeared remotely for a hearing before a judge in Santa Fe. When asked how he would ask, he replied, “No argument, Your Honor.”
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He will not serve a prison sentence. Instead, he will serve six months of unsupervised probation.
He is also expected to testify at a preliminary hearing in May as prosecutors investigate actor Alec Baldwin and the film’s gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez Reed on involuntary manslaughter charges.
Halls was in the church building at Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, NM on October 21, 2021 when Hutchins was killed by a single shot from Baldwin’s .45 Colt.
Gutierrez Reed loaded the firearm, which was intended to contain only dummy cartridges. Baldwin held it when it was fired, although he has denied pulling the trigger.
Halls checked the gun before handing it to Baldwin, though the exact nature of his involvement remains controversial. Baldwin said Halls turned the gun over to him and declared it a “cold gun,” meaning it contained no blanks. Gutierrez Reed has also said that she handed it to Halls and then exited the building before Baldwin arrived.
Experts on on-set gun use have accused Halls of handling the gun, saying only the gunsmith and actor should be holding it.
Halls has denied under oath that Baldwin was given the gun and said he remembered Gutierrez Reed giving it directly to the actor. He also testified that he didn’t say “cold weapon.”
At Friday’s hearing, prosecutor Kari Morrissey read a statement stating Hall’s guilt in the shooting.
“He’s the last line of defense. He had to verify and confirm that the cartridges in the gun were indeed dummy cartridges,” she said. “Mr. Halls did not check every cartridge that was in the gun to confirm that it was a dummy cartridge.”
Halls conceded in his first sheriff’s interview that he should have checked all rounds, but didn’t.
In her prepared statement, Morrissey also noted that there had been two negligent discharges of blank cartridges prior to Hutchin’s death and that the camera crew had left the set in part for safety reasons.
“Obviously, this was a very serious incident,” Morrissey said. “A young woman lost her life. There were obvious safety issues on that set and Mr. Halls was, as the court knows, the safety coordinator on set.”
Halls defense attorney Lisa Torraco said Friday that Halls disputes the state’s claim that he was ultimately responsible for the set’s security.
“He can’t control how other people use guns,” Torraco said. However, she said he agreed not to plead for a contest to “make things easier for the family.”
“Everyone has to start processing and move on,” Torraco said. “Mr. Halls is in great pain and a lot of trauma.”
Torraco requested a suspended sentence, but the judge denied that request and instead imposed the six-month unsupervised probation period.
The two prosecutors who brought charges in January, DA Mary Carmack-Altwies and Special Prosecutor Andrea Reeb, have now both been removed from the case. On Wednesday, Carmack-Altwies appointed Morrissey and Jason Lewis, both private attorneys, to take over.
Carmack-Altwies told a judge Monday that she needed outside help to pursue the case because her office was understaffed. But the judge ruled that if she wanted to appoint special prosecutors, she would have to back down.
Reeb resigned after Baldwin challenged her appointment on the grounds that she could not pursue the case while she was serving in the state legislature.
Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed face up to 18 months in prison if convicted.
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Source : www.yahoo.com