New attorney joins prosecution team against Alec Baldwin in fatal 'Rust' shooting

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FILE - This aerial photo shows the Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Oct. 23, 2021, used for the film "Rust." A New Mexico judge Monday, April 15, 2024, sentenced Rust movie armorer to 18 months in prison for fatal on-set shooting by Alec Baldwin. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

SANTA FE, N.M. – An attorney has been added to the special prosecution team that is pursuing an involuntary manslaughter charge against actor Alec Baldwin in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer on the set of the Western movie “Rust,” court officials confirmed Thursday.

The district attorney for Santa Fe has appointed Erlinda Johnson as special prosecutor to the case, which is scheduled for trial in July. She was sworn in Tuesday.

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Baldwin has pleaded not guilty to an involuntary manslaughter charge in the shooting of Halyna Hutchins during an October 2021 rehearsal at a movie-set ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe.

Baldwin, the lead actor and co-producer for “Rust,” was pointing a gun at Hutchins during rehearsal when the revolver went off, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

Johnson's experience as a criminal defense and personal injury attorney include representing former New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran, who resigned in 2015 amid revelations she used campaign funds to fuel a gambling addiction. Duran received a 30-day jail sentence after pleading guilty to embezzlement and money laundering charges.

Johnson previously worked as a federal prosecutor on drug enforcement and organized crime investigations after serving as assistant district attorney in the Albuquerque area.

Prosecutors are turning their full attention to Baldwin after a judge on Monday sentenced movie weapons supervisor Hannah Gutierrez-Reed to the maximum of 18 months at a state penitentiary on an involuntary manslaughter conviction Hutchins's death.

Prosecutors said Gutierrez-Reed unwittingly brought live ammunition onto the set of “Rust,” where it was expressly prohibited, and failed to follow basic gun safety protocols. She was convicted by a jury in March.

Defense attorneys for Baldwin are urging the judge to dismiss the indictment against him, accusing prosecutors of “unfairly stacking the deck” in grand jury proceedings and diverting attention away from exculpatory evidence and witnesses.

Special prosecutors deny those accusations and accuse Baldwin of “shameless” attempts to escape culpability, highlighting contradictions in his statements to law enforcement, to workplace safety regulators and in a televised interview.

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