NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Both sides of the Rust movie shooting case were in court Monday. Lawyers in the Rust shooting case discussed if another special prosecutor will be appointed to help district attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies try the case.
Alec Baldwin and two others are charged in the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of “Rust” in October 2021.
Now Lawyers in the Rust movie shooting case are debating whether to allow for another special prosecutor to help the state’s First Judicial District Attorney try the case. State District Attorney, Mary Carmack-Altwies has cited staffing shortages, saying the additional prosecutor would help lighten the load to successfully try not only this case, but several others across her district. “We are all down. So, many attorneys and this hybrid prosecution situation is one of the only options that we have other than to just start turning cases away,” said Carmack-Altwies.
Earlier in March, Baldwin’s defense lawyers cited the conflict of now former special prosecutor Andrea Reeb’s status as a lawmaker, Reeb who stepped down from the case. However, Carmack-Altwies says a new special prosecutor should be appointed while she co-councils. “We do not have the sufficient manpower to fully prosecute this case by ourselves. I am trying to ensure my public accountability in this case and not avoid it, co-counseling meets the twin goals of public accountability and appropriate resource allocation,” said Carmack-Altwies.
However, the defense representing Hannah Gutierrez-Reed who is accused in the shooting and death of “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins filed a brief, asking the court to deny the state’s request. “The state is essentially saying we get out all of this money together with a special taxpayer appropriation to go after not only Mr. Baldwin but also Hannah Gutierrez Reed, that is not what the statute was designed to do, it’s not designed to allow a district attorney to augment her office,” said Defense Attorney, Jason Bowles.
The DA argues there is no rule keeping her from working the case as co-council, but the judge disagrees. “36-1-23.1 prevents you from staying in because you are saying you cannot prosecute. So if you cannot prosecute, you cannot prosecute. By co-counseling, you’re prosecuting and I don’t think you disagree with that,” said First Judicial District Court Judge, Mary Marlowe Sommer. Judge Sommer gave the DA a choice either the DA may not co-council, or stay the course and not use the special prosecutor.
The DA has until Friday to decide how she would like to proceed. She says she asked for the exemption because her office is already down seven prosecutors and will be down two more next month. She says she has had to take on more cases. The third person charged in the case, David Halls, is expected to plead guilty on Friday.