Actor Alec Baldwin leaves his home, where he will be charged with manslaughter for the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halena Hutchins on the set of the movie “Rust,” in New York January 31, 2023.
David de Delgado | Reuters
Attorneys for Alec Baldwin filed a petition Friday arguing that New Mexico prosecutors wrongly charged the actor under a law that did not apply to his case — which carries a mandatory five-year prison sentence.
Baldwin was charged with two counts of manslaughter late last month in October. 2021 fatal shooting on set for cinematographer Helena Hutchins, one of which is more serious and involves a firearms boost that would lead to a mandatory prison sentence. If the case does end up going to trial, the jury will have to determine which count of manslaughter Baldwin committed, if that is the case.
In a suit filed in the First Judicial District of Santa Fe, attorneys for Baldwin argued that specific improvements did not apply to Baldwin because the law was changed in May 2022, seven months after the accident.
“The plaintiffs in this case committed an unconstitutional and fundamental wrongdoing of law to charge Mr. Baldwin under a law that did not exist at the date of the accident,” Baldwin’s attorneys wrote in the suit.
At the time of the incident, New Mexico’s Firearms Promotion Act applied to cases where a handgun was “waving” in the commission of a non-punitive felony, with branding defined as displaying a firearm “with intent to intimidate or injure a person.”
The law was later amended by the New Mexico Legislature to remove any reference to the obligation to brandish a gun, according to the court filing.
Baldwin’s attorneys argue that the new version of the law cannot apply to behavior that occurred before it was enacted and call the application of retroactive reinforcement “flagrantly unconstitutional.”
“The government’s statement of probable cause contains no allegation that Mr. Baldwin acted ‘with intent to intimidate or injure a person’, and its description of the alleged behavior makes it clear that the tragic death of cinematographer Helena Hutchins was an accident.” States.
“It would be unconstitutional to apply the current version of the law retroactively, and the government has no legitimate basis to charge Mr. Baldwin under the version of the law that existed at the time of the accident.”
In response, Heather Brewer, a spokeswoman for the New Mexico 1st Judicial District Attorney, said the motion is nothing more than an attempt to distract “from the gross negligence and utter disregard for safety on the set of the ‘Rust’ movie that led to Halyna Hutchins’ death.”
“In accordance with good legal practice, the Attorney General and Special Prosecutor will review all motions — even those made to the media before they are submitted to the DA,” Brewer said.
“However, the focus of the DA and the Special Prosecutor will always be on ensuring that justice is done and that everyone — even celebrities with accomplished attorneys — is held accountable under the law.”