Jury to hear opening statements in Alec Baldwin trial

Nearly three years after the on-set death of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, New Mexico prosecutors are preparing to make opening statements in the involuntary manslaughter trial of actor Alec Baldwin in a shooting that shocked Hollywood.

A New Mexico jury of 12 and four alternates - 11 women and five men chosen Tuesday - will hear prosecutors on Wednesday outline arguments that Baldwin disregarded safety during filming of the low-budget movie before pointing a gun at Hutchins during a rehearsal, cocking it and pulling the trigger as they set up a camera shot on a set southwest of Santa Fe.

The reproduction 1873 Single Action Army revolver fired a live round, inadvertently loaded by armourer Hannah Gutierrez, that killed the rising star cinematographer and wounded director Joel Souza.

Since a police interview on October 21, 2021, the day of the shooting, Baldwin has argued the gun just "went off".

In an ABC News interview two months later, Baldwin told George Stephanopoulos he did not pull the trigger. 

A 2022 FBI test found the gun was in normal working condition and would not fire from full cock without the trigger being pulled.

State prosecutors charged Baldwin with involuntary manslaughter in January 2022. 

They dropped charges three months later after Baldwin's lawyers presented photographic evidence the gun was modified, arguing it would fire more easily, bolstering the actor's accidental discharge argument.

Prosecutors called a grand jury to reinstate the charge in January after an independent firearms expert confirmed the 2022 FBI study.

FBI testing broke the gun, and Baldwin's lawyers will tell jurors that destruction of the weapon prevented them from proving the gun was modified.

Armourer Gutierrez, whose job on the set of Rust included managing firearms safely, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in March for loading the live round.

Prosecutors will have to persuade jurors Baldwin is also guilty of wilful and reckless criminal negligence.

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