A Santa Fe judge on Friday accepted a plea deal, bringing the first conviction for the 2021 shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins during filming of the western movie Rust in New Mexico.
Dave Halls, first assistant director on Rust, pleaded no contest as part of an agreement with prosecutors to the misdemeanour charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon for his role in Hutchins’ death.
Santa Fe District Court judge Mary Marlowe Sommer presided over a virtual hearing in Halls’ case on Friday. She sentenced Halls, who was responsible for on-set safety, to a six-month suspended sentence with unsupervised probation, a $500 (€460) fine, 24 hours of community service and a firearms safety class.
Hutchins was killed when actor Alec Baldwin fired a live round from a revolver while rehearsing. As first assistant director, prosecutors said Halls was responsible for set safety on Rust.
The conviction marked a step forward for state prosecutors plagued by legal setbacks since they filed charges in January.
“Halls did not check every round in the gun to confirm it was a dummy round and not a live round,” state prosecutor Kari Morrissey said during the plea hearing.
Halls, an industry-veteran with more than 80 credits including The Matrix Reloaded and The Crow: Salvation, was the only member of the Rust cast and crew to enter a plea bargain. Prosecutors said he approached them and was co-operative.
It remains unclear whether he will testify on behalf of the prosecution in a May preliminary hearing where Marlowe Sommer will decide whether there is probable cause to try Baldwin and armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed.
Baldwin pleaded not guilty to a criminal charge of involuntary manslaughter. The actor said he relied on weapons experts – Gutierrez-Reed and Halls – to ensure the firearm was safe to use.
Gutierrez-Reed, who was responsible for firearm safety and training, will also plead not guilty, according to her lawyer.
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed are the only others charged in the case. – Reuters
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