Prosecutors ask for max for 'Rust' armorer, oppose conditional discharge

Apr. 12—Special prosecutors filed paperwork Friday opposing Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed's request for a conditional discharge on her involuntary manslaughter conviction and asking instead that she be given the maximum sentence.

Gutierrez-Reed's sentencing is scheduled for Monday. A Santa Fe jury convicted her of the fourth-degree felony last month in connection with the on-set shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins at Bonanza Creek Ranch south of Santa Fe.

Hutchins died on Oct. 21, 2021, after being struck by a bullet that came from a gun the film's star and producer Alec Baldwin was holding during a walk-through of a scene. Gutierrez-Reed brought live bullets on set and accidentally loaded one into the revolver wielded by Baldwin prior to the incident, according to evidence presented at her trial.

If Gutierrez-Reed were to be granted the conditional discharge her lawyers are seeking, she would not have a felony on her record if she successfully completes a period of probation handed down by the court. The designation is only allowed for people with no prior felony convictions and people are only allowed one per lifetime.

Gutierrez-Reed should not get one, special prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis say in their response filed Friday, in part because she has failed to accept responsibility for her actions and continues to blame others for the circumstances surrounding Hutchins' death.

Prosecutors also cite another pending criminal case against Gutierrez-Reed, in which she's accused of illegally bringing a gun into a bar, as the basis for denying the conditional discharge.

In addition for asking Gutierrez-Reed be given the maximum penalty in the involuntary manslaughter case — 18 months in prison — the state is asking the judge to deem her crime a "serious violent offense," which would limit the good-time credit the armorer could earn while serving her time to 15% of her total sentence.

The 12-page response includes written excerpts the state says are paraphrases and quotes from Gutierrez-Reed's phone calls with friends and relatives from jail in which she complains about the outcome of her trial and speaks disrespectfully about parties involved in the case, including Morrissey.

Portions of the excerpts also include statements Gutierrez-Reed made to callers about how jail isn't that bad.

In one of the phone calls, the prosecutors say in their filing, "Hannah says jail is a forced vacation and that she is doing fine and if she has to spend more time in jail it will be OK."

Gutierrez-Reed's request for a conditional discharge, included in a sentencing memo filed by her defense team Wednesday, was somewhat confusing because it asked she be given a conditional discharge but also said "a sentence with some period of incarceration followed by a term of probation is adequate to punish the offense."

Conditional discharges are generally granted in cases in which a defendant has not been convicted and/or sentenced to jail time. Gutierrez-Reed has been in jail for about a month since her conviction.

New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association Jennifer Burrill — who didn't work on the case but regularly represents criminal defendants in the First Judicial District — said Friday sometimes judges will keep a defendant in jail for a short period of time prior to sentencing to impress upon them the seriousness of the potential consequences of their crime but later sentence them to probation and grant a conditional discharge.

Baldwin — who has denied pulling the trigger on the gun — is also charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with Hutchins' death. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to stand trial in July.