Alec Baldwin has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter, and waived his appearance in court on Friday.
Baldwin remains free without having to post a bond. The actor was due to make his first court appearance on Friday via Google Meet, but chose instead to submit his not guilty plea through a court filing.
Baldwin faces up to 18 months in prison if convicted in connection with the death of “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. The Santa Fe D.A. alleges that he acted with “criminal negligence” when he fired a loaded weapon during preparation for a scene at the Bonanza Creek Ranch in October 2021.
Baldwin has denied the allegations, and maintained that others were responsible for making sure the gun was not loaded.
Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the film’s armorer, is due to make her first court appearance on Friday. Her attorney said that she will not waive the appearance. She is also accused of involuntary manslaughter for loading the gun and failing to make sure that all the rounds were dummies.
On Monday, prosecutors dropped a firearm enhancement that could have tacked on an additional five years to each of their sentences. The enhancement allows an extra punishment for “discharge” of a weapon in the course of a felony, but did not apply to the “Rust” case because it took effect seven months after the shooting.
Baldwin is set to head to Montana this spring to complete the film, which has been suspended since the shooting. The producers announced a settlement in October with Hutchins’ widower, Matthew, in which he will become an executive producer. The filmmakers have said that they intend to finish the film as a tribute to Hutchins’ final work, and are also cooperating with a documentary crew.
The witness list in the case includes at least two people who are working on the film: actor Jenson Ackles and director Joel Souza. Under the term’s of Baldwin’s release, he is allowed to talk to potential witnesses about things like completing the film and “other related and unrelated business matters,” but he is barred from discussing the shooting with them.
The release terms also allow him to retain Matthew DelPiano as his agent. DelPiano is a producer on “Rust.” He may also discuss the case with fellow civil defendants, provided attorneys are present.
Baldwin is barred from consuming alcohol and forbidden from possessing firearms or other dangerous weapons. The actor wrote in his memoir that he has been sober since 1985.
Baldwin and Gutierrez Reed have a right to a preliminary hearing within 60 days of pleading not guilty. They are expected to appear in person for that hearing, at which prosecutors must put on enough evidence to convince a judge to order a trial.