District attorney in Alec Baldwin Rust shooting case steps aside | Rust film set shooting

The New Mexico district attorney who charged Alec Baldwin for the shooting death cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust has stepped down from the case, marking another blow to the prosecution.

Mary Carmack-Altwies said in a statement on Wednesday that she was passing prosecution of the case over to longtime New Mexico lawyers Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis.

The news comes just five weeks before a high-profile preliminary hearing, and means that the Albuquerque attorneys will take over the case as special prosecutors.

Carmack-Altwies is the second prosecutor to resign from a legal team in the case, which has been beset by errors since Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed were charged in January for the death of Hutchins.

The latest twist is a win for the defense and leaves the prosecution “on its heels”, according to legal observers who spoke to the Los Angeles Times. “This [resignation] gives the appearance that the prosecution does not have confidence in the case,” a former US attorney, John P Fishwick Jr, told the Times.

A previous special prosecutor, Andrea Reeb, a Republican state representative, stepped down on 15 March after Baldwin’s lawyers argued it was unlawful for her to serve as a member of the state judiciary and legislature at the same time.

Lawyers for Gutierrez-Reed this month filed a motion to stop Carmack-Altwies acting as a co-prosecutor in the case, arguing that she could not appoint a new special prosecutor and continue to take part in the prosecution herself.

Mary Marlowe Sommer, a district court judge, agreed and gave the district attorney until Friday to make a decision.

“Carmack-Altwies will step aside from personally prosecuting the Rust case, allowing her to focus on the broader public safety needs in New Mexico’s first judicial district,” said Heather Brewer, a spokeswoman for the district attorney.

Sommer will decide at a 3 May hearing if there is probable cause to try Gutierrez-Reed and Baldwin on criminal charges that require prosecutors prove the pair showed intentional disregard for Hutchins’ safety.

Both were charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, the most serious of which was subsequently dropped after Baldwin’s lawyers found the law underpinning it was passed after Hutchins was shot.

Baldwin has pleaded not guilty and Gutierrez-Reed is expected to do the same.

Hutchins was killed and Rust’s director, Joel Souza, wounded on the film set in October 2021 when a revolver Baldwin was rehearsing with fired a live round.

Dave Halls, first assistant director on Rust, was the only member of the cast and crew charged for Hutchins’ death to enter a guilty plea.

On Friday, Sommer will consider a plea deal he reached with prosecutors for a misdemeanor charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon.

Reuters contributed reporting

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