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Alec Baldwin ‘Rust’ trial: Judge makes major ruling in actor’s favor

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SANTA FE, N.M – In an early legal win for actor Alec Baldwin, the judge presiding over his New Mexico involuntary manslaughter trial ruled Monday that prosecutors can’t introduce evidence of his status as a producer on the film “Rust.”

Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer granted the defense’s request to bar the state from introducing testimony about how Baldwin’s role as a producer of the Western film “Rust” allegedly allowed him to act recklessly and flout gun safety protocols.

“I’m having real difficulty with the state’s position that they want to show that as a producer he didn’t follow guidelines and therefore, as an actor, Mr. Baldwin did all these things wrong,” the judge said at a hearing in Santa Fe’s First Judicial District Court. “The probative value is not substantially outweighed by unfair prejudice and confusion to jurors.”

ALEC BALDWIN ‘RUST’ SHOOTING TRIAL: FATAL TIMELINE THAT LED TO ACTOR’S INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER CHARGE

Alec Baldwin wears cowboy hat on set of Rust production during church scene in New Mexico

New Mexico prosecutors claim Alec Baldwin was “reckless” on the “Rust” film set. (Santa Fe County Sheriffs Dept./New Mexico Courts)

Baldwin accidentally fired a gun that was mistakenly loaded with a live round on the film’s set in October 2021, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza. He has pleaded not guilty. 

The judge’s decision was a significant blow to the prosecution’s case. Baldwin, who was seated at the defense table, didn’t react to the ruling.

Prosecutors have argued that as producer of the film and the most experienced member of the cast, he was ultimately responsible for reckless behavior on the set.

ALEC BALDWIN ‘RUST’ TRIAL: ACTOR SAUNTERS INTO COURT FOR PRETRIAL HEARING

Alec Baldwin arrives at the First Judicial District Court in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Alec Baldwin arrives at the First Judicial District Court in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Monday, July 8, 2024. (Derek Shook for Fox News Digital)

“Defendant’s role as a producer emboldened him in the days before October 21, 2021, to engage in conduct that placed others, including Ms. Hutchins at risk, by rushing crew members and making demands for quick changes to scenes, sending crew members scrambling,” special prosecutor Erlinda Johnson argued in court papers. “Mr. Baldwin’s role as producer also made him keenly aware of his duties to observe set safety rules and orderly conduct on set.”

Baldwin, Johnson contended, should have been aware that he was being “reckless and wanton” when he pointed the gun at Hutchins. 

Sommer’s ruling also blocks prosecutors from presenting potentially unflattering videos of Baldwin rushing staffers and barking orders at them.

‘RUST’ STAR ALEC BALDWIN’S LEGAL TEAM SLAMMED FOR ‘COUNTLESS LIES,’ ‘MANIPULATION’ AS ACTOR BATTLES INDICTMENT

church in New Mexico

Aerial photo of the church where Halyna Hutchins was shot and killed on the “Rust” movie set. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

Defense lawyer Luke Nikas argued that Baldwin’s role as producer is irrelevant to the allegations against him and would only confuse the jury. 

During a brief break after Sommer handed down her ruling, special prosecutor Kari Morrissey dismissed the importance of the ruling and said she was not “particularly concerned.”

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The movie’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, was convicted at trial of the same charge Baldwin is facing and is currently serving an 18-month sentence. She unknowingly loaded the live round into the revolver.

Fox News Digital’s Julia Bonavita contributed to this report.

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