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Hannah Gutierrez in court on 6 March Alamy Stock Photo
Hannah Gutierrez

Rust film set armourer jailed for 18 months over fatal shooting of cinematographer

Alec Baldwin, who was also a producer on the movie, faces his own involuntary manslaughter trial in July.

THE ARMOURER WHO loaded the gun that killed a cinematographer on the set of the Alec Baldwin movie Rust has been sentenced to 18 months in prison by a US court.

Hannah Gutierrez stood impassive as a judge in New Mexico told her she would serve the maximum sentence after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the October 2021 death of Halyna Hutchins during filming of the budget Western.

“You were the armourer, the one that stood between a safe weapon and a weapon that could kill someone. You alone turned a safe weapon into a lethal weapon,” Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer said.

“But for you, Miss Hutchins would be alive. A husband would have his partner and a little boy would have his mother.”

Gutierrez’s 10-day trial had heard how despite being the person responsible for on-set firearms, the 26-year-old had repeatedly failed to follow basic safety rules, leaving guns unattended and allowing actors – including Baldwin – to wave weapons around.

It also heard how she was responsible for the presence of six live rounds – a movie industry red line – and how she had loaded one of them into the Colt .45 that Baldwin was using.

The weapon discharged as the actor was preparing a scene inside a wooden church, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

“Halyna Hutchins died due to a cascade of safety violations that began with Miss Gutierrez introducing live rounds to the movie set, loading one into a prop gun telling the members of the crew that it was a cold gun,” prosecutor Kari Morrissey told the sentencing hearing in Santa Fe.

“That conduct absent responsibility or remorse is deserving of a sentence of 18 months.”

‘God awful tragedy’

Morrissey told the judge that Gutierrez had made around 200 calls from jail since her conviction, in which she complained that she was being unfairly victimised.

“Rather than accept responsibility, she has chosen to place blame on the witnesses who testified against her, me, you, the jurors, the set Medic and the paramedics who tried to save Miss Hutchins life,” Morrissey said.

“Her jail calls … tell us who Miss Gutierrez really is.”

Gutierrez sobbed as she begged the court for probation, rather than jail time, but insisted that she was not wholly to blame.

“Your Honor, when I took on Rust, I was young and I was naive. But I took my job as seriously as I knew how to, despite not having proper time, resources and staffing.

“The jury has found me in part at fault for this god awful tragedy. but that doesn’t make me a monster. That makes me human,” she said.

Baldwin, who was also a producer on the movie, faces his own involuntary manslaughter trial in July. He denies the charge.

If convicted, he too faces a possible 18 months in prison.

Dave Halls, the film’s safety coordinator and assistant director, who handed Baldwin the loaded gun, agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors last year and was sentenced to six months’ probation.

The tragedy sent shock waves through Hollywood and led to calls for a complete ban on the use of weapons on movie sets.

Industry insiders, however, insisted that rules were already in place to prevent such incidents, and that those working on Rust had not followed them.

The filming of Rust was halted by the tragedy, but completed last year on location in Montana.

The cinematographer’s widower, Matthew Hutchins, who has already settled a wrongful death suit with Rust producers, served as an executive producer.

No release date has been announced.

© AFP 2024