Prosecutors Withdraw Lenient Plea Offer in Alec Baldwin's Rust Case

Unexpected legal developments arise in Baldwin's ongoing case

by Zain ul Abedin
Prosecutors Withdraw Lenient Plea Offer in Alec Baldwin's Rust Case
© Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Alec Baldwin, the prominent actor entangled in the tragic 2021 shooting on the set of the Western film "Rust," faces a potential 18-month prison term if convicted of involuntary manslaughter. This pivotal case, stemming from the accidental death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, continues to unravel with surprising legal twists.

Recent court filings by special prosecutors reveal a withdrawn plea deal that could have significantly altered Baldwin's legal fate. Initially, Baldwin, who was handling the prop gun that unexpectedly discharged, killing Hutchins, was offered a chance to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge.

This early offer included terms of six months of unsupervised probation, a $500 fine, 24 hours of community service, and a mandatory firearms safety class. The plea proposal paralleled the agreement accepted by "Rust" assistant director Dave Halls earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the film's armorer responsible for the weapons, was indicted alongside Baldwin and later found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, receiving an 18-month sentence.

Plea Deal Withdrawn

However, the leniency initially extended to Baldwin was retracted before he could accept.

Special prosecutors Kari T. Morrissey and Jason J. Lewis, in a response to a motion from Baldwin's attorneys seeking to dismiss his indictment, detailed the timeline of the plea offer. They noted that after extending the plea until late October 2023, they received no acknowledgment from Baldwin's defense team.

Subsequently, the situation escalated when details of the supposed confidential negotiations were allegedly leaked by Baldwin's attorney to the media, aiming to sway public opinion and protect Baldwin's image. This breach led prosecutors to rescind the offer as they discovered Baldwin's team was not only leaking information but potentially planning a lawsuit against the State of New Mexico and the original prosecuting team.

These actions prompted Morrissey and Lewis to retract the plea deal and proceed with a grand jury indictment. As the case heads to trial in July, overseen by Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer - who also presided over Gutierrez-Reed's trial - legal analysts are watching closely.

Emily D. Baker, a lawyer and former L.A. Deputy District Attorney, speculated on the possibility of Baldwin's team seeking a renewed plea deal, especially given the outcomes of related cases.

Alec Baldwin