‘Rust’ assistant director pleads guilty to firearms charge

David Halls, the “Rust” assistant director who handled the weapon that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in 2021, did not contest a misdemeanor charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon on Friday.

The plea makes Halls the first person held criminally responsible for Hutchins’ death. Actor Alec Baldwin and the independent film’s original gunsmith, Hanna Gutierrez-Reed, are both charged with manslaughter in connection with Hutchins’ death.

Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges, which carry up to 18 months in prison.

The New Mexico judge overseeing the “Rust” case sentenced Halls to six months unsupervised probation, a $500 fine and 24 hours of community service.

Halls will also be required to complete a gun safety course, as well as testify in future “Rust” hearings or trials, per New Mexico Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer’s ruling. Halls previously accepted the plea deal in January.

Preliminary hearings for Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed are scheduled to begin in early May.

Notably, Friday’s hearing was the first to take place under the supervision of the case’s new special prosecutors, Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis.

To date, the “Rust” proceedings have been regularly disrupted by complications over the appointment of the previous special prosecutor in charge of the case.

The first special prosecutor assigned to the case, Andrea Reeb, resigned earlier this month after Baldwin’s defense attorneys filed a motion seeking his removal.

At the heart of Reeb’s removal request were her allegedly conflicting commitments: Reeb was appointed as a special prosecutor before being elected to the New Mexico legislature. Baldwin’s attorneys argued that the state constitution barred the people from simultaneously serving as prosecutor and legislator.

While Reeb and the district attorney’s office initially denied the motion, Reeb’s decision to stand down was followed by a New York Times report in which Reeb suggested in a June 2022 email that working on the case could help his political career.

The complications only continued from there. On Monday, Mary Carmack-Altwies, the New Mexico prosecutor who had overseen the “Rust” case, received a directive from Judge Marlowe Sommer: either recuse yourself from the case or lose your ability to name a new special prosecutor.

On Wednesday, Carmack-Altwies recused herself. In her place, she named Morrissey and Lewis.

“My responsibility to the people of the First Judicial District is greater than any case, which is why I have chosen to appoint a special prosecutor in the ‘Rust’ case,” Carmack-Altwies said in a statement. .

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