US judge denies Alec Baldwin’s bid to throw out manslaughter case

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Alec Baldwin will stand trial as scheduled in July after a US judge denied a bid to dismiss a criminal charge against him.

Hollywood actor Baldwin had previously plead not guilty to involuntary manslaughter following the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of western film Rust in October 2021.

On Friday, New Mexico Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer rejected arguments made by Baldwin’s lawyers for dismissing the case, finding that the grand jury process was not prejudiced against the 66-year-old actor.

“It is therefore ordered that defendant Alec Baldwin’s motion to dismiss the indictment is hereby denied,” the judge wrote at the end of her ruling.

Baldwin is scheduled to face a trial from July 9, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, after a prop gun he was holding went off, killing Ms Hutchins.

The US star will face a maximum of 18 months in prison if convicted after trial.

This was the sentence Rust armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed received after a jury found her guilty of the same charge. Her defence lawyer has filed an appeal notice.

In March, Baldwin’s lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the involuntary manslaughter case, alleging violations of court orders and other legal faults by the prosecution in the grand jury process.

During the virtual court hearing last week, Baldwin’s lawyer Alex Spiro said the court needed to “step in and check this abuse of power”, telling the judge “the court can have no comfort in this indictment”.

“This is a homicide case, prosecutors are required to do better than this. This indictment should be dismissed,” he said.

While lead prosecutor Kari Morrissey defended her position, confirming to the judge “this isn’t something nefarious”, and “there is no bad faith here”.

“The defence wants somehow to try to convince the court that the actor who is holding a real gun in his hand has absolutely no responsibility for what he does with that gun, and it’s simply not the case,” she said.

She concluded: “Everything that he is saying to you right now is a complete misrepresentation about what has happened, and that is what these people do.”

The judge asked several follow-up questions of Ms Morrissey, before ultimately denying the motion to dismiss the charge against Baldwin on Friday – a week after the virtual hearing.