As first appeared in The Western Journal
By Aron Solomon
Just over a year ago, I wrote about how remarkable it was that the state of New Mexico had not yet filed criminal charges against Alec Baldwin regarding the death of Halyna Hutchins.
Hutchins, born in Ukraine, was pronounced dead at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque on Oct. 21, 2021, as a result of Baldwin shooting her upon the discharge of an old-fashioned revolver.
On Thursday morning, Santa Fe County District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies said in a written statement shared with the media, “After a thorough review of the evidence and the laws of the state of New Mexico, I have determined that there is sufficient evidence to file criminal charges against Alec Baldwin and other members of the ‘Rust’ film crew.”
Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer on the film set, will each be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter under NM Stat § 30-2-3 (2018). David Halls, the film’s assistant director, has already pleaded guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon under NM Stat § 30-7-4 (2018).
Criminal defense attorney Krenar Camili explains the delay between the shooting and today’s announcement of the criminal charges against Baldwin: “For these charges to be filed, the District Attorney’s office must be convinced that Alec Baldwin and others criminally disregarded safety on the set of the movie they were making. These are very serious charges.”
As Carmack-Altwies poignantly added in assuring everyone that charges would be filed within the next two weeks in New Mexico’s First Judicial District Court, “on my watch, no one is above the law, and everyone deserves justice.”
What justice is and isn’t in this case should have nothing to do with Baldwin’s celebrity. He should be treated exactly the same as any other person. What matters here is the fact set and nothing else.
There is a strong argument to be made that those facts look bad for Baldwin.
While Baldwin filed a civil negligence cross-claim against crew members as a result of the tragic events on the New Mexico set, what has been apparent from the day of Hutchins’ killing is that legal authorities never saw the facts of this story as complete. With today’s announcement that charges will be filed, the case moves closer to justice.
The end result of the charges announced today could see Baldwin convicted of a felony.
The New Mexico statutes classify involuntary manslaughter as a fourth-degree felony, with a maximum of 18 months in state prison. However, things might become significantly worse for Baldwin.
The jury could alternatively make a finding of involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act. As per the district attorney’s statement:
“The other charge is involuntary manslaughter in the commission of a lawful act. This charge requires proof that there was more than simple negligence involved in a death. This is also a fourth-degree felony punishable by up to 18 months in jail and up to a $5000 fine. This charge includes a firearm enhancement, or added mandatory penalty, because a firearm was involved. The firearm enhancement makes the crime punishable by a mandatory five years in jail.”
What is clear today is that the Santa Fe County district attorney has been deliberate in taking all the time she needed to ensure that justice would be served — both for the Hutchins family and the people of New Mexico.
About Aron Solomon
A Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer, Aron Solomon, JD, is the Chief Legal Analyst for Esquire Digital and the Editor-in-Chief for Today’s Esquire. He has taught entrepreneurship at McGill University and the University of Pennsylvania, and was elected to Fastcase 50, recognizing the top 50 legal innovators in the world. Aron has been featured in Forbes, CBS News, CNBC, USA Today, ESPN, TechCrunch, The Hill, BuzzFeed, Fortune, Venture Beat, The Independent, Fortune China, Yahoo!, ABA Journal, Law.com, The Boston Globe, YouTube, NewsBreak, and many other leading publications.