The shocking death of a camerawoman while filming the western “Rust” with Hollywood star Alec Baldwin now has serious consequences for a young weapon master. Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was sentenced to 18 months in prison for involuntary manslaughter – the maximum possible sentence in this headline-grabbing case.

She was responsible for safety when handling weapons on the film set. Instead of a harmless bullet, there was live ammunition in the weapon operated by Baldwin.

The court in Santa Fe (US state of New Mexico) announced the sentence. Before the announcement, the public prosecutor had asked the judge to impose the full sentence. The defense tried to have the sentence suspended.

Gutierrez-Reed: I was young and naive

Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer had harsh words for the armorer. She showed no remorse for her irresponsible actions, Sommer said in the courtroom. Gutierrez-Reed turned a safe weapon into a lethal weapon and thus caused the death of camerawoman Halyna Hutchins.

The armorer, who did not testify during the trial, spoke for the first time. Her heart aches for the Hutchins family. Gutierrez-Reed asserted that she was young and naive during the shoot, but took her work as a weapons master seriously. She complained that she had been portrayed in press reports as a “complete monster” when the opposite was true.

After a trial that lasted several weeks, the young woman was found guilty of negligent homicide by a jury in March. She has been in prison ever since. Wearing light green prison clothing, she attended a hearing that lasted several hours on Monday before the judge handed down the verdict.

With tears in her eyes, Gutierrez-Reed listened as friends and colleagues of the slain camerawoman spoke up and remembered her. The Ukrainian-born camerawoman’s mother, who lives in Kiev, also spoke about the loss of her daughter in an emotional video message.

The case

The deadly drama at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, a popular western filming location in New Mexico, shook up Hollywood. On October 21, 2021, main actor Baldwin, dressed in western clothing, pulled out a revolver during rehearsals. But instead of harmless cartridges, live ammunition was released.

The bullet pierced Hutchins, 42, and then hit director Joel Souza, who was standing behind her, in the shoulder. According to an eyewitness, as she lay bleeding on the floor, Hutchins said, “That wasn’t good. That wasn’t good at all.” The mother of a then nine-year-old son died shortly afterwards.

Shortly after the incident, accusations and speculation were raised. Film crew members complained about negligence and a lack of safety on the set, and the inexperienced weapons master was overwhelmed. She loaded the revolver, which was then handed to Baldwin.

How the live ammunition got onto the set was one of the key questions in the process. In addition to blank cartridges and so-called dummy cartridges, investigators found six real cartridges. One of these was inserted into the revolver cylinder when loading.

Baldwin also in court

The prosecution accused the weapons master of disregarding safety precautions and failing to check the ammunition. Her defense attorney, in turn, blames the lead actor and producer Baldwin as well as other participants in the “Rust” production for a lack of safety on the set.

Next, Baldwin has to defend himself in the dock. The trial against the 66-year-old Hollywood star for negligent homicide is scheduled for July. Charges were brought against the actor in January 2023, but were dropped a few months later. After further investigations, Baldwin was charged again at the beginning of the year.

He had repeatedly protested his innocence in interviews and also claimed that he did not pull the trigger on the gun. “We look forward to our day in court,” his legal team said in January. After the maximum sentence for the armorer, there is also a lot at stake for Baldwin.