That’s four for four setbacks for the New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney in her prosecution of Alec Baldwin for the fatal shooting of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchings in October 2021.
In a virtual hearing today, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer shut down D.A. Mary Carmack-Altwies’ attempt to bring on a new special prosecutor for the high-profile case and serve as co-counsel in the matter.
“We need extra manpower on this case,” the elected official told the judge and lawyers for Baldwin and co-defendant and ex-Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed Monday. “All the money in the world doesn’t help prosecute a case if we can’t find the bodies in our office,” Carmack-Altwies went on to say, noting the loss of nearly a third of her prosecution team over the last few years.
Alec Baldwin Trashes 'Rust' D.A. For Threatening His "Right To A Fair Trial" Over Fatal Movie Shooting
“We are in dire straits,” she bluntly noted on the remote gathering, that included Reed herself. “So, we have to be able to look outside of our offices in order to find people. That is our good cause that we do not have the sufficient manpower to fully prosecute this by ourselves. Bringing on a special prosecutor helps with that by taking on some of the burden of prosecution.”
Already the D.A. lost a February 24 attempt to block Reed’s request to possess a gun in her home for self-defense. Then coming off having to drop a firearm enhancement charge from the on-going case in last month, and the sudden and stinging loss of the besieged Andrea Reeb as special prosecutor earlier this month, the D.A. really needed a win today.
She distinctly did not get it.
Basically, Judge Sommer told Carmack-Altwies’ she can’t have it both ways. “You may not co-counsel …you stay the course and not use a special prosecutor and prosecuted on your own,” she insisted. “It’s an either or,” the judge stated, pushing all sides to be conscious on the impending May 3 preliminary examination a.k.a. minitrial
“If you cannot prosecute, you cannot prosecute,” the Judge said Monday after offering an extensive interpretation of New Mexico statutes on such prosecutions. “Do you think that is a real argument after all is said and done?” Sommer added with no attempt to mask her distain after Carmack-Altwies’ postulated a new special prosecutor could appoint her as co-counsel once appointed.
Taking more than a year after Hutchins’ killing to finally charge Baldwin and Reed in late January with two counts of involuntary manslaughter out of the October 21, 2021 shooting on the Rust set. Under the current charges, now that the five-year sentence connected to the firearm enhancement is gone, Baldwin and Reed are looking at a maximum of 18 months behind bars and around $5,000 in fines if a jury delivers guilty verdicts. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Grappling with some self-described “technical difficulties,” today’s hearing was originally intended to deal with Baldwin’s motion to disqualification against now former special prosecutor Reeb. The March 14 resignation of the GOP state legislator made that initial intent moot. However, while Baldwin’s lawyers, who have recently claimed their client’s constitutional rights have been violated by the D.A., have raised no fuss, Carmack-Altwies’ subsequent desire to appoint a new special prosecutor to co-lead the Rust case has received backlash from Reed’s Jason Bowles-led defense team.
That backlash turned into a wall today.
Yet, the Judge has permitted what could end up being a loophole to emerge. Under another Land of Enchantment statute, a District Attorney’s office can bring on board a private lawyer to help with cases on a contract basis. Though Carmack-Altwies did not cite that particular stature, Judge Sommer has given her until Thursday to submit a brief and has penciled in a March 31 hearing on that.
A resurrected Rust is set on paper to go into production in Montana on April 20, as Deadline exclusively reported on March 16. That Rust 2.0 will star Baldwin, be directed again by Joel Souza, who was injuted in the 2021 shooting and have Hutchins’ widower Matthew Hutchins as an executive producer. Along with various Rust crew members and law enforcement officials, Matthew Hutchins is currently on the D.A.’s witness list for the two-week minitrial set to start in early May in Santa Fe.
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