‘Rust’ armorer sentenced to 18 months in prison for fatal shooting

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Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the “Rust” armorer found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for her role in the fatal shooting of the film’s cinematographer, was sentenced to 18 months in prison Monday by a New Mexico district court judge.

A jury had convicted Gutierrez-Reed in March in the 2021 death of Halyna Hutchins — the first trial verdict connected to the incident. She has spent more than a month in a county jail awaiting sentencing, according to the Associated Press.

Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer sentenced Gutierrez-Reed to the maximum 18 months in state prison. Prosecutors had argued in court filings for her to receive the full sentence due to her “recklessness” and “complete and total failure to accept responsibility for her actions,” as seen through recorded jail phone conversations.

“We will be appealing the judgment and sentence on multiple grounds,” said Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney, Jason Bowles, in a statement.

Gutierrez-Reed teared up in the courtroom as witnesses read statements about Hutchins and her family. The defendant remained stoic and unmoving as the verdict was read.

“I find that what you did constitutes a serious, violent offense,” Sommer said after reading the sentence. “It was committed in a physically violent manner, a fatal gunshot done with your recklessness in the face of knowledge that your acts were reasonably likely to result in serious harm.

“You were the armorer. The one that stood between a safe weapon and a weapon that could kill someone. You alone turned a safe weapon into a lethal weapon,” Sommer said.

Monday’s sentencing stems from an October 2021 incident on the set of “Rust.” During filming, Alec Baldwin was rehearsing a scene with a revolver when the gun went off with live ammunition, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza. Baldwin, who claimed he never pulled the trigger, was indicted by a grand jury for involuntary manslaughter in January with a trial set for this summer.

Prosecutors argued that Gutierrez-Reed’s “unprofessional and sloppy” conduct led to there being live ammunition on set, which ultimately resulted in Hutchins’s death. The prosecution alleged in court filings that the armorer was hung over while loading the gun and tampered with evidence by handing drugs to someone else involved with the film.

Prosecutors repeated their call for an 18-month sentence in the courtroom Monday, saying that Gutierrez-Reed’s recorded phone conversations from jail showed a lack of remorse.

“Rather than accept responsibility, she has chosen to place blame on the witnesses who testified against her, me, you, the jurors, the set medic, and the paramedics who tried to save Ms. Hutchins’s life,” special prosecutor Kari Morrissey said in the courtroom.

Witnesses speaking on behalf of Hutchins and her family largely eulogized the cinematographer. Her agent remarked how Hutchins saw “Rust” as a massive career opportunity, while her friends and colleagues remembered her parenting skills, her extroverted attitude and her sweet tooth. Many blamed the film industry at large for what happened on the “Rust” set. The witnesses also blamed Gutierrez-Reed, saying she deserved the maximum sentence.

Souza, the “Rust” director wounded in the 2021 shooting, said over a Google Meet video that he wished the shooting had never happened.

“I struggled with what to say here today because what I want is simply not possible,” he said. “I want that none of this ever happened, that everyone’s okay and that lives weren’t destroyed, and that worst of all, that Halyna’s life wasn’t lost.”

Prosecutors shared a video from Hutchins’s mother, Olga Solovey, who is Ukrainian. “The day of her death ruined my entire life,” she said, according to translations in captions as the video played in the courtroom. “That day turned everything upside down. It’s extremely difficult without her. Every minute I wait until I’ll meet her again.”

The prosecution also played a memorial slide show that included photos of Hutchins to the tune of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here.”

But the defense argued that Gutierrez-Reed was rushed to do her job and wasn’t given enough resources to properly prepare the weapons on set. Bowles, her attorney, argued that Baldwin’s failure to properly handle the gun on set led to the fatal shooting.

“I beg you, please don’t give me more time,” Gutierrez-Reed said in her statement before the verdict was read. “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 verdict and trial were a glimpse of what Baldwin could face when his trial starts July 9. Baldwin was originally charged with involuntary manslaughter by New Mexico prosecutors in January 2023 before those charges were dropped as prosecutors sought more time to investigate. Baldwin has said he pulled the gun’s hammer — not the trigger — in the shooting. But a forensics expert noted that the gun couldn’t have gone off without pressure on the trigger. If convicted, Baldwin would similarly face 18 months in prison.

Samantha Chery contributed to this report.

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