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State: Alec Baldwin's claims are 'false, misleading and histrionic'

New Mexico's response to Baldwin's motion to dismiss included extended reasons as to why they're continuing their criminal case against the actor.
State: Alec Baldwin's claims are 'false, misleading and histrionic'
Posted at 5:17 PM, Apr 08, 2024

In a lengthy and, at times, dramatic response to Alec Baldwin's motion to dismiss pending manslaughter charges, New Mexico prosecutors accused the actor and his attorneys of offering a "predictably false, misleading and histrionic misrepresentation of the facts and circumstances of the history of the case."

Baldwin is charged with involuntary manslaughter for the Oct. 21, 2021, shooting death of Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer of the movie "Rust, "which they were filming at the time. Hannah Gutierrez, who was the armorer on set, was convicted of the same charges and is scheduled to be sentenced next week.

On March 15, Baldwin's attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him, accusing the prosecutors of "violating nearly every rule in the book" in their overzealous mission to charge him. Baldwin has maintained his innocence on all fronts, saying that he has cooperated with investigators, that he did not pull the trigger of the gun, and that he was serving as an actor when the gun he was holding went off and killed Hutchins, and is thus not responsible for the deadly outcome.

Baldwin's changing stories

Prosecutor Kari Morrissey, who authored the State's response, said every part of that narrative is contrived and accused Baldwin of contradicting himself in the numerous interviews he has conducted with investigators and the media.

In the first interview with detectives on the day of the shooting, Baldwin was recorded telling deputies that Gutierrez handed him the gun, that he fired the gun, and that director Joel Souza, who was also injured in the shooting, was telling him where to point.

Morrissey said that when Baldwin sat down for an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on Dec. 3, 2021, "everything changed." In that interview, Baldwin appeared to say that Hutchins had given him the instruction for where to point the gun, and for the first time claimed that he didn't pull the trigger.

In a separate interview with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), Morrissey said Baldwin's story continued to change, with him now saying that first assistant director David Halls handed him the gun.

"As the OSHA interview continued, Mr. Baldwin's story took a very interesting turn. Mr. Baldwin vacillated between claiming he had virtually no experience with guns and almost daily experience with guns. … In sum, every time Mr. Baldwin spoke, a different version of events emerged from his mouth and his later statements contradicted his previous statements and his attorneys' assertions as set forth in their motion to dismiss."

Baldwin's behavior on set

While Baldwin's motion cited a report from OSHA saying that he was "not a part of Rust management and that his authority on set was limited to creative decisions," Morrissey said their evidence proves otherwise.

Baldwin arrived a week after filming began and, as a result, had to receive separate firearms training, during which he was inattentive and spent time "making videos of himself shooting the gun for his family's enjoyment." Videos attached to the filing appear to show Baldwin firing the gun as people record with cellphones, Morrissey said.

Baldwin, who co-authored the script with Souza, was also the lead actor and a producer of the film.

"Mr. Baldwin's relentless rushing of the crew on the movie set routinely compromised safety because Rust is not a romantic comedy, it is an action-filled western with dangerous stunts and real guns being used as props," Morrissey said in the motion. "In addition to rushing the cast and crew, Mr. Baldwin was frequently screaming and cursing at himself, at crew members or at no one and not for any reason. To watch Mr. Baldwin's conduct on the set of Rust is to witness a man who has absolutely no control of his own emotions and absolutely no concern for how his conduct effects (sic) those around him."

SEE MORE: New trial denied for 'Rust' armorer convicted in fatal shooting on set

The plea agreement

Baldwin accused the prosecutors of trying to fight the case in the media rather than a courtroom. He cited the revocation of a plea offer he was initially offered as part of their alleged misconduct. While Morrissey conceded that there had been a "very favorable plea agreement," she said that it was only rescinded after Baldwin first allegedly shared the details of the "presumed confidential and privileged" offer with a reporter for NBC News, then planned to file a civil lawsuit on the same day as the plea hearing to "direct media attention to the frivolous lawsuit and away from the plea hearing," and finally after receiving information that "Mr. Baldwin commissioned his own documentary about the death of the woman he killed and was actively pressuring material witnesses in the case against him to submit to interviews for his documentary."

Lies and misrepresentations

Morrissey said the problems between her office and Baldwin's attorney, Luke Nikas, began with a meeting on April 12, 2023, when both sides met for four hours in Santa Fe.

"During this meeting Mr. Nikas stated that if the case proceeded, he may call a variety of A-list actors to testify on Mr. Baldwin's behalf and specifically referenced Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren. Mr. Nikas went further and stated that if the case were to proceed, he would call Mr. Baldwin's supporting actor on Rust, Jensen Ackles as a witness for the defense ... Nearly all of Mr. Nikas' statements to counsel during the meeting on April 12, 2023, would later be determined to be false or misleading."

The deadline for the defense to submit witnesses for the trial was March 1, but Morrissey noted that Ford, Mirren and Ackles are all absent from the list.

"It is worth noting that after the plea offer was rescinded the NBC News reporter again contacted undersigned counsel and warned her that she (the reporter) spoke to Mr. Nikas about the retraction of the plea and Mr. Nikas exclaimed that he was 'going to destroy' undersigned counsel. Undersigned counsel responded that she expected nothing less."

Morrissey also took issue with Baldwin's motion's representations of the gun used in the shooting as having been "destroyed" by the FBI as part of their testing. She said the damage to the weapon was a result of the FBI trying repeatedly and unsuccessfully to make the gun fire in a way that would align with Baldwin's assertion that the trigger wasn't pulled. The gun, the motion argues, was not destroyed, but some small internal mechanisms were damaged.

The grand jury

Baldwins' motion decried the grand jury indictment as patently unfair given how the evidence was presented, but Morrissey argued, "The State went beyond what is required of prosecutors." While Baldwin has accused the prosecution of withholding exculpatory evidence from the grand jurors, Morrissey said it was available: "The truth is that the grand jurors were alerted to Mr. Baldwin's witnesses and documents, and they had no interest in reading the documents or requesting the attendance of the witnesses."

Regarding the time spent on the case, Morrissey said that the day-and-a-half-long presentation was "likely one of the longest in the history of the First Judicial Court."

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