NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – After former special prosecutor Andrea Reeb stepped down from the case, two new special prosecutors will join the Rust movie shooting case. The news means there will be more legal brainpower behind the state’s effort to convict actor Alec Baldwin.
Actor-producer Alec Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed are facing involuntary manslaughter charges, accused in the October 2021 shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. The film’s assistant director David Halls is facing a single misdemeanor count of negligent use of a deadly weapon (unsafe handling)
In the ongoing legal proceedings, the team bringing charges against Baldwin has now undergone several staff changes. Andrea Reeb was leading the case against Baldwin but stepped down after questions over whether or not Reeb could properly serve as a special prosecutor while also serving as a state legislator.
Following Reeb’s departure, the judge on the case ruled that the First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies (the DA) is allowed to appoint a new special prosecutor if the DA does not act as co-council. Thursday, March 29, the DA’s office announced her decision.
“New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies on Wednesday appointed long-time New Mexico attorneys Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis to serve as special prosecutors in the ‘Rust’ case. Morrissey’s and Lewis’ extensive experience and trial expertise will allow the state to pursue justice for Halyna Hutchins and ensure that in New Mexico everyone is held accountable under the law,” spokesperson Heather Brewer said in an email.
“With the appointment of new special prosecutors, 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,” Brewer added.
DA Carmack-Altwies explained the decision in a brief statement: “My responsibility to the people of the First Judicial District is greater than any one case, which is why I have chosen to appoint a special prosecutor in the ‘Rust’ case. Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis will unflinchingly pursue justice in the death of Halyna Hutchins on behalf of the people of First Judicial District.”
KRQE News 13 called some of the lawyers representing Baldwin for comment. We were unable to reach them before publication.
Special prosecutors are lawyers who step in, from outside the DA’s office in this instance, to lead criminal cases. They sometimes take on cases in order to prevent conflicts of interest or to bring certain expertise to a trial.
Although not made clear in the statements released Wednesday, the decision to bring new special prosecutors into the Baldwin case could help the DA’s office manage the high-profile case while still conducting its usual day-to-day business. DA Carmack-Altwies previously said that a special prosecutor would help lighten the workload for the DA’s office.