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'Rust' armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed sentenced to 18 months in prison

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the former armorer of the movie <em>Rust</em>, during her trial in Santa Fe, N.M., on March 6, 2024.
Luis Sanchez Saturno
/
AFP via Getty Images
Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the former armorer of the movie Rust, during her trial in Santa Fe, N.M., on March 6, 2024.

As armorer of the Western film Rust, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was in charge of weapons used on set and on location. She was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter after loading a prop gun that killed the movie's cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins. Now Gutierrez-Reed has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Before issuing the sentence, Santa Fe judge Mary Sommer said she hadn't expressed accountability for the accidental death. "In her own words, she said she didn't need to be shaking dummies all the time."

During a scene rehearsal in 2021, the film's main actor, Alec Baldwin, pointed what was supposed to be an unloaded gun toward the camera. It fired off, killing cinematographer Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza. Since then, there have been questions over who is responsible for loading the gun with live ammunition.

Last month, a New Mexico jury blamed Hannah Gutierrez-Reed.

During her trial, special prosecutor Jason Lewis said she had been sloppy, negligent and reckless throughout the production.

"She failed to do the essential safety functions of her job," Lewis argued in court. "And these failures resulted in live ammunition being spread throughout this entire set."

Her attorney, Jason Bowles, argued that she was unfairly singled out for the accidental shooting.

"What you're seeing in this courtroom today is trying to blame it all on Hannah... because why? Because she's an easy target. She's the least powerful person on that set," he said.

Bowles had asked the judge to sentence Gutierrez-Reed to probation and said he'd appeal her guilty decision. To pay the legal costs, her father, Thell Reed, a longtime movie armorer, started a GoFundMe campaign. But it was shut down for violating rules against raising money to legally defend cases involving violent crimes.

In July, Alec Baldwin will go on trial for his role in Hutchins' death. Prosecutors say they plan to use some of the witnesses and evidence shown in court during Gutierrez-Reed's trial, including footage from Baldwin firing a gun in character during the film's production.

Baldwin has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and says he was not responsible for Hutchins' death; prosecutors say as one of the film's producers, he was.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.
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