NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – David Halls, the first assistant director on set during the ‘Rust’ movie shooting, is pleading no contest to negligent use of a deadly weapon. Friday in court, Halls’ defense attorney asked the judge for a deferred sentence, while the state argued for a suspended sentence.
Halls was the assistant director and safety coordinator on the set of Rust back in October of 2021. He was the last person to check the gun for live rounds before actor Alec Baldwin rehearsed a scene with it. Ultimately, the firearm went off and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
“He is kind of the last line of defense, so he needed to check and confirm that the rounds in the gun were actual dummy rounds,” Prosecutor Kari Morrissey said.
The state also pointed to the fact that this was not the first incident with a gun on the set. “Prior to October 21 of 2021, there had been two previous negligent discharges of firearms on that set; a camera crew walked off the set the day before due to safety concerns among other issues,” said Morrissey.
Halls’ lawyer shared with the court that he feels great pain for what happened. “He, like many others, is extremely traumatized and just, you know, rattled with guilt and so many other feelings of, ‘what could I have done better,’” said Lisa Torraco. His lawyer went on to explain Halls wanted to plead no contest quickly to make things easier for the Hutchins family and co-defendants in the case.
A judge ended up agreeing with the state. Halls was given a suspended sentence and six months of unsupervised probation.
Under the plea agreement, Halls will have to testify in all hearings, trials, or settings involving any defendants and co-defendants in the case. Halls will also have to pay a $500 fine, complete a firearm safety course, and 24 hours of community service.
A preliminary hearing for Alec Baldwin and Hannah Gutierrez-Reed is scheduled to take place May 3 and is expected to last two weeks.