Hollywood star Alec Baldwin, who faces court after being fatally shot while filming a western, has won before the trial began. At the request of his attorneys, the New Mexico Attorney’s Office dropped a charge against the 64-year-old actor. Now, if found guilty, Baldwin could get away with a significantly reduced sentence.

The more serious charge of negligent homicide in connection with the use of firearms was dropped, according to the prosecutor’s office. This could have earned Baldwin five years in prison. His lawyers argued that this allegation was legally flawed because the relevant legal basis for it only came into force months after the fatal gunshot on the set of the Western shoot. Baldwin’s team was now able to score points with this argument. The actor initially did not comment on this development.

Possible sentence: Up to 18 months in prison

Prosecutors countered that they wanted to circumvent the “contentious distractions” of Baldwin and his attorneys. Instead of having an expensive argument with the defense attorneys about the charges, their primary goal is to obtain justice.

Baldwin and gunsmith Hannah Gutierrez-Reed now face involuntary manslaughter, a possible sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Friday. A date for the start of the process has not yet been set.

Safety regulations were disregarded

Camerawoman Halyna Hutchins was fatally injured while filming the western “Rust” at a Santa Fe film ranch in October 2021. Baldwin, who served as lead actor and producer on the film, was holding a gun in rehearsal for a scene when a shot went off. The projectile also hit director Joel Souza in the shoulder, injuring him. Investigations revealed that the Colt had a real bullet lodged in it. Baldwin and the armorer had always denied responsibility for the fatal accident.

At the end of January, the public prosecutor’s office filed the charges. Baldwin acted in many ways “extremely” negligent. As an actor and as a producer of the film, he disregarded numerous safety regulations, according to the court documents, among other things.

Filming will continue soon

Several civil lawsuits are also pending in the case. The parents living in Ukraine and the younger sister of the killed camerawoman Hutchins filed a lawsuit against Baldwin and others involved in early February, demanding damages.

Meanwhile, the “Rust” filming, which was discontinued in autumn 2021, is to be continued in the coming months. In addition to director Souza, Baldwin is also back as a producer and actor, the production team recently announced. Cinematographer’s widower Matthew Hutchins joins as executive producer. Cinematographer Bianca Cline has been hired by Hutchins to “complete Halyna’s vision” for the western, the release said. Nothing was initially known about the filming location.