Alec Baldwin’s lawyers rip New Mexico prosecutors for ‘elementary legal error,’ claiming that weapons charge in ‘Rust’ case is ‘unconstitutional’

Alec Baldwin attends a news conference at United Nations headquarters in 2015.Seth Wenig/AP Photo

  • Alec Baldwin’s lawyers are trying to dismiss an enhancement that would extend his jail time.

  • The enhancement was amended in May 2022, a year before the shooting of Halyna Hutchins.

  • The First Judicial District Attorney said it would review the motion, but called it a distraction.

Alec Baldwin’s lawyers are challenging part of a charge related to the shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film “Rust” in October 2021 because it didn’t exist when the shooting occurred.

In January, New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies charged Baldwin with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. Baldwin is being “charged in the alternative,” meaning that if his case goes to trial, he can only be convicted on one of the charges, which includes 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

One of the involuntary manslaughter charges also includes a firearm enhancement, which carries an additional five years in jail.

However, in a motion filed Friday, Baldwin’s lawyers called the retroactive application of the enhancement an “unconstitutional and elementary legal error,” saying that it violated the Ex Post Facto clause of both the US and New Mexico constitutions.

During the shooting, New Mexico’s firearm enhancement law could increase a sentence by three years. The law was updated in May 2022 to add an additional two years to the enhancement.

The firearm enhancement law prior to 2022 also clarifies that it would only apply when a firearm was “brandished” before a shooting, defined to mean the displaying of a firearm with the intent to “intimidate or injure a person.” Baldwin’s lawyers argues that the District Attorney’ statement of probable cause “nowhere alleges that Mr. Baldwin acted with such an intent.”

The updated statute gets rid of the “brandishing” definition and states that any noncapital felony that involved the discharge of a weapon would result in the five-year increase.

Heather Brewer, a spokesperson for the New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney, told Insider in a statement that they would review the motion, but were still focused on holding Baldwin “accountable under the law.”

“Another day, another motion from Alec Baldwin and his attorneys in an attempt to distract from the gross negligence and complete disregard for safety on the “Rust” film set that led to Halyna Hutchins’ death,” Brewer said.

The same charges and enhancement were also applied to Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer in charge of weapons on the Santa Fe movie set. Jason Bowles, Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney, also filed a motion Friday challenging the enhancement, similarly arguing that the charges would not apply to her.

Neami Rahmani, president of West Coast Trial lawyers, contended that Baldwin’s lawyers had a point, saying in a statement to Insider that it was “likely” the judge would toss out the charge enhancement.

“The prosecutors are in over their heads,” Rahmani wrote. “It’s already a tough case and they’re making mistakes at every turn – waiting too long to prosecute, having a special prosecutor who is a member of the state legislature and whose involvement raises a separation of powers issue, and now stumbling into a constitutional violation.”

Baldwin’s lawyers did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

February 10, 2023: This story has been updated to reflect that Jason Bowles, lawyer for Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, filed a similar motion requesting that the firearms enhancement be dismissed from her involuntary manslaughter charge on Friday.

Read the original article on Insider

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