HOLLYWOOD HILLS—Actor Alec Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed had their firearm enhancement charges dropped on Friday, February 17, in the case of a shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film “Rust.” The decision was made by the Santa Fe District Attorney. 

This decision removes the possibility of a five-year prison sentence but the involuntary manslaughter charges still remain for both Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed. A firearm enhancement charge carries a mandatory five-year prison sentence if convicted. An involuntary manslaughter charge carries a potential sentence of up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

“In order to avoid further litigious distractions by Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys, the District Attorney and the special prosecutor have removed the firearm enhancement to the involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of Halyna Hutchins on the ‘Rust’ film set. The prosecution’s priority is securing justice, not securing billable hours for big-city attorneys,” spokesperson Heather Brewer said in a statement.

This decision comes after the defendants’ lawyers filed a motion earlier this month to dismiss the firearm enhancement charges citing a New Mexico law that was passed after the death of Hutchins. At the time of the shooting, the statute in question applied only if it’s found that a firearm was “brandished,” meaning that the defendant used the weapon with the “intent to intimidate or injure a person.” It was amended in May 2022, seven months after the incident occurred, to replace the brandishing requirement with a lower standard that a gun was simply discharged.

Baldwin’s lawyers claimed that New Mexico prosecutors unconstitutionally charged the plaintiff with violating a statute that didn’t exist at the time of the on-set shooting. The change lowered the standards to apply the added penalty and increased potential prison time from three to five years. Baldwin’s lawyers referred to it as an “elementary legal error” and affirmed that he had no reason to believe the prop gun used on the set had real ammunition. 

Joel Souza, who was the director for “Rust,” was also injured during the incident, but Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed will not face charges related to his injury.

The production of film was scheduled to begin again in January 2023 after Baldwin settled a lawsuit with Hutchins’ family.  Bianca Cline, who’s worked on films like “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” and “Murder Among the Mormons,” will be the film’s new cinematographer. The “Rust” production team plans on producing a documentary based on Hutchins’ life.