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Alec Baldwin’s Criminal Charges Driven By Legal Facts And His Own Public Arrogance

Alec Baldwin and his wife giving interview to reporters on the side of the highway
Image CreditNBC News/YouTube

Legal experts agree that the criminal charges came as a result of both the facts at hand and public perception of Baldwin’s behavior.


Alec Baldwin does not know Proverbs 16: “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

The movie star allegedly shot and killed his cinematographer, and then pridefully declared in TV interviews that he will never be criminally charged. Baldwin, who was both the lead actor and producer for the movie “Rust,” haughtily blamed his employees for not checking if his gun was loaded with live ammunition. He blamed the victim, Halyna Hutchins, for telling him to point the gun at her. He told the sheriff he never pulled the trigger, but FBI forensics proved that was a lie.

Baldwin’s fall came on Thursday when the Santa Fe district attorney’s office announced he will be charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. His destruction could be a jury conviction for the top felony charge, which would send him to jail for a five-year mandatory sentence.

“The fact that Baldwin went on an immediate public campaign to exonerate himself and went on ABC News and said he didn’t do anything wrong — that definitely factored into the prosecutor’s decision,” Dennis Postiglione, an Austin attorney who is suing Baldwin for defamation and other charges on behalf of a fallen Marine family, told me in an exclusive interview.

“Baldwin just killed someone he knew. And he did all of these interviews, didn’t cry, and thumbed his nose at the state — saying he would not be charged,” Postiglione said. “If that had been you or me, I think charges would have come a lot sooner.”

Postiglione said the movie star is entitled to due process and afforded the presumption of innocence, adding, “Baldwin is controversial and combative, but that doesn’t mean he’s automatically guilty.”

Baldwin’s lawyer Luke Nikas did not respond to a request for comment, but in a public statement said his client, “relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds. We will fight these charges, and we will win.”

Baldwin is being charged both as an actor and a producer who was aware of reported safety concerns on the low-budget film, said New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies. “We are saying — here in New Mexico — that everyone is equal under the law,” she told CNN on Thursday.

The Scene of the Crime

On Oct. 21, 2021, Baldwin was rehearsing a scene in a small church in the desert. He allegedly yanked a .45 Colt single-action revolver out of the holster, cocked the hammer, pointed the gun at Hutchins, and pulled the trigger. The bullet from the real ammunition went into Hutchins, came out her back, and lodged in Director Joel Souza’s shoulder. Baldwin then reportedly walked out of the church. His crew stayed with Hutchins and spent 25 minutes desperately trying to save her from bleeding to death on the dusty floor.

Carmack-Altwies has not said how the six “live rounds” — out of the 500 pieces of dummy and blanks — got on the set. Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza’s detectives did not ask the FBI lab in Quantico to test the live rounds for fingerprints or DNA, according to a lawyer with knowledge of the process. The D.A. said she will release more details on the evidence after the charges are filed in court by the end of the month. In addition, Baldwin’s cell phone records for the day of the shooting have still not been made public.

Two of “the professionals” who worked for Baldwin were also charged. The movie’s armorer, Hannah Guiterrez-Reed, got the same charges as Baldwin. Assistant Director David Halls signed a plea agreement for the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon and got a suspended sentence. Carmack-Altwies told the Santa Fe New Mexican that her deal with Halls requires him to testify against Baldwin and Guitterez-Reed. The D.A. refused to say if she will make additional plea deals.

Baldwin said in multiple media appearances that he has been trained on the gun safety rules for using real guns in movies for 40 years. Guiterrez-Reed, the armorer on set, allegedly asked to train Baldwin for the complex cross-draw maneuver (pulling a gun from a holster on the other side of your body) but was denied, according to the sheriff’s investigation files.  

“That’s the key — the cross-draw training. Baldwin would have learned to not have his finger in the trigger guard,” a lawyer involved in the case told me on the basis of anonymity because the charges have not yet been filed. “And by not calling Hannah into the church for that scene where she could have checked everything again and given instructions. Total failure.” 

The armorer was reportedly told not to come into the church set due to Covid restrictions. She gave the revolver to Halls who gave it to Baldwin.

The D.A. said on CNN that she spoke to many actors, including “A-list” celebrities, and they “always check their guns or have someone check it in front of them,” adding that “every person that handles a gun has a duty to make sure that if they’re going to handle that gun, point it at someone and pull the trigger, that it’s not going to fire a projectile and kill someone.”

Arrogance on Public Display

Legal experts agree that the criminal charges came as a result of both the facts at hand and public perception of Baldwin’s behavior.

Attorney Andrew F. Branca of the Law of Self Defense has said since the day after the “Rust” shooting that it was a clear case of involuntary manslaughter. Branca explained two charges against Baldwin and Guitterez-Reed.

“Involuntary manslaughter means you don’t intend to hurt anyone, but you acted in a reckless fashion which you know created an unjustified risk of death,” Branca, who has a popular YouTube legal show, told me in an interview. “You know there is a risk, but you do it anyway. The classic example is a drunk driver.”

One of the two counts comes with a much higher penalty because it involves a firearm sentencing enhancement: jail time of five years instead of 18 months maximum.

“It’s almost always reckless if you’re handling a gun,” said Branca. “Recklessness is when you know the risk of death. Negligence is you don’t knowingly create the risk. That would only happen if Alec Baldwin was from outer space and had never handled a gun before, so he doesn’t know he’s creating a risk.”

Baldwin, who is from New York, said he does not feel guilty and is not responsible for shooting and killing Hutchins. Now, a New Mexico jury will decide his guilt for not following the gun safety rules all responsible gun owners adhere to. Unfortunately for Hutchins, Baldwin put pride before the destruction of a young wife and mother.

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