Armourer for the film Rust sentenced to 18 months in fatal on-set shooting

A New Mexico state judge cited Hannah Gutierrez-Reed’s apparent lack of remorse in her decision to impose the sentence.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed turns to look at her family during her sentencing hearing on April 15 [Sanchez Saturno/Reuters, pool]Published On 15 Apr 202415 Apr 2024

The weapons supervisor for the film Rust has been sentenced in the United States to 18 months in prison for her role in the fatal on-set shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armourer on the film, received the maximum possible sentence at Monday’s hearing in Santa Fe, New Mexico, after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter on March 6.

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The state judge who handed down the sentence, Mary Marlowe Sommer, said Gutierrez-Reed had a responsibility to keep the set safe and that she failed to do so.

“You were the armourer, the one that stood between a safe weapon and a weapon that could kill someone,” Marlowe Sommer said.

“You alone turned a safe weapon into a lethal weapon. But for you, Ms Hutchins would be alive, a husband would have his partner and a little boy would have his mother.”

Hutchins’s killing in October 2021 sent shockwaves through the Hollywood film industry.

Rust’s star and producer, Alec Baldwin, had been practising for a shootout scene with a revolver when the gun went off.

The revolver was carrying live ammunition – something banned on US film sets – and the round struck Hutchins in the chest. She died on the way to the hospital.

The bullet also hit director Joel Souza, though he has since recovered from his injuries.

Baldwin has repeatedly denied pulling the trigger, though a forensic analysis from the prosecution concluded the revolver was unlikely to fire unless he did.

He too faces trial for involuntary manslaughter in July, with a sentence of up to 18 months in prison as well.

Olga Solovey speaks to the loss of her daughter Halyna Hutchins via video conference in court on April 15 [Eddie Moore/Reuters, pool]

Ahead of Monday’s sentencing, defence lawyers asked the judge to consider the “devastating effect a felony will have” on the 26-year-old Gutierrez-Reed.

But prosecutors highlighted Gutierrez-Reed’s seeming lack of remorse.

“Ms Gutierrez continues to refuse to accept responsibility for her role in the death of Halyna Hutchins,” said special prosecutor Kari Morrissey.

In a court filing earlier this month, prosecutors requested that Gutierrez-Reed receive the maximum sentence “due to her recklessness in the face of knowledge that her acts were reasonably likely to result in serious harm”.

They cited instances where Gutierrez-Reed was allegedly in possession of cocaine and smuggled a firearm into a bar, something for which she faces charges in a separate case.

The filing also outlined jailhouse phone calls where Gutierrez-Reed allegedly said “she can’t believe that the judge put her in jail” and that she was “wrongly incarcerated”.

Those calls appeared to have played a role in the outcome of her sentencing hearing.

“The word ‘remorse’ – a deep regret coming from a sense of guilt for past wrongs – that’s not you,” Judge Marlowe Summer said after referring to a portion of the phone call transcripts.

At the sentencing hearing, family and friends of the late Hutchins gathered to share statements and remembrances.

“I struggle to deal with this repeatedly being called an accident, because it was not an accident, it was negligence,” said Jen White, a colleague.

Hutchins’s mother, Olga Solovey, also appeared at the hearing via video conference from Kyiv in her native Ukraine.

Speaking in Ukrainian, she testified to the impact her daughter’s death has had: “It’s the hardest thing to lose a child. There are no words to describe.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies