Hammer of gun in 'Rust' shooting possibly modified -prosecutors

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By Andrew Hay

(Reuters) - The hammer of the gun actor Alec Baldwin was holding when it fired a live round killing "Rust" cinematographer Halyna Hutchins may have been intentionally modified, New Mexico special prosecutors said in a court filing this week.

The comments came a month after prosecutors dropped a criminal charge against Baldwin over Hutchins' death in 2021, citing new evidence. A source close to the case at the time said the evidence concerned modifications to the reproduction long Colt .45 revolver Baldwin was using.

"The modification appears to be related to the notches on the internal portion of the hammer for full cock, half cock and quarter cock positions," prosecutors said in documents filed on Wednesday asking a judge to authorize transfer of the revolver, ammunition and a jacket belonging to the film’s weapons handler for forensic testing.

"It appears that these notches may have been partially removed or ground down so that they are less prominent."

An FBI test of the gun found it would not fire unless the trigger was pulled. Baldwin said he never pulled the trigger.

Prosecutors said additional testing was required to see if the hammer was modified, the source of the modification and what impact it might have on the firearm's performance.

Ammunition found on the set was requested for testing for manner of assembly and origin of manufacture, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors have yet to reveal how live rounds got onto the set of the low-budget movie production.

"Rust" weapons handler Hannah Gutierrez-Reed is the only person still facing charges over Hutchins' death.

Prosecutors also requested Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office transfer Gutierrez-Reed's jacket to them for gunpowder-residue testing

Her attorneys on Thursday filed a motion to dismiss the criminal case against her on grounds of lack of prosecutorial authority and violations in Gutierrez-Reed's due process rights.

Prosecutors last month said they would continue to charge Gutierrez-Reed with involuntary manslaughter. A preliminary hearing on the charge is set for Aug. 9-16.

(Reporting By Andrew Hay; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)