Lawyer Tells Us Alec Baldwin's Defense Faces Serious Concerns After Rust Armorer Verdict

A lawyer is breaking down why the latest "Rust" armorer verdict should bring serious concerns to Alec Baldwin and his legal team. In October 2021, tragedy struck the "Rust" film set after crew member Halyna Hutchins was fatally shot and killed by a bullet from Baldwin's firearm, thought to have fake bullets, per ABC News. Many legal filings followed the incident, including Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the film's armorer, and Baldwin facing the serious charge of involuntary manslaughter.

Over two years later, Gutierrez Reed was the first to stand trial among those involved in the "Rust" shooting. She was also charged with tampering with evidence for "transferring narcotics" to another individual on set after the incident occurred, per ABC News. Gutierrez Reed had pleaded not guilty to both charges as the trial began in 2024.

On March 6, 2024, a verdict was reached in Gutierrez Reed's trial as the jury found her guilty of involuntary manslaughter, and she was acquitted of the tampering with evidence charge, per Variety. She faces up to 18 months in prison; her sentence should be revealed in the coming weeks. Juror Alberto Sanchez revealed to reporters, "Someone died. You gotta take responsibility. Especially when you're handling weapons and you're in charge of those. That's your job." With Gutierrez Reed facing a guilty verdict, trial attorney Tray Gober, managing partner of the Texas-based law firm Lee, Gober & Reyna, is revealing why this should raise concern for Alec Baldwin's trial set for July 2024.

Lawyer explains why Alec Baldwin's team should be worried about upcoming trial

Months after the "Rust" shooting tragedy occurred, Alec Baldwin continued to point fingers while speaking with ABC News. He said, "Someone put a live bullet in a gun, a bullet that wasn't even supposed to be on the property. Someone is ​responsible for what happened, and I can't say who that is, but I know it's not me." However, the reality is Baldwin could face time in prison for his involvement in the incident, and with Hannah Gutierrez Reed being found guilty, trial attorney Tray Gober believes that the actor and his team have reason to worry.

Gober exclusively told Nicki Swift, "The guilty verdict in Hannah Gutierrez Reed's trial should cause serious concern for Alec Baldwin." Gober notes there will be differences in his trial versus Gutierrez Reed's because of the different roles they took on set. Gober believes Baldwin and his team's defense will rely on "the expertise of others regarding firearm safety and the assertion that he was acting in his capacity as an actor, following directions at the time of the incident." Gober thinks they may also reiterate Baldwin's belief that the firearm was safe to use. He explained, "These aspects, among others, could lead to a different legal approach and outcome when compared to Reed's trial." Baldwin and his team may use different tactics than Gutierrez Reed, but her guilty verdict should still raise concerns with the actor.

Jurors in Hannah Gutierrez Reed case should raise Alec Baldwin's concern

Not only should Alec Baldwin and his legal team be concerned over the verdict reached in Hannah Gutierrez Reed's case, but also the questions leading up to the verdict. According to Variety, "the jurors asked a question about what might constitute an 'intervening event' that would break the foreseeable chain of events." Trial attorney Tray Gober explained to Nicki Swift that the jury questioning an "intervening event" shows they are "carefully considering the chain of causation in the incident." He then explained what an intervening event is, sharing, "In legal terms, an intervening event could potentially absolve a defendant of liability if it's determined that the event was unforeseeable and directly caused the outcome." Gober revealed to Nicki Swift that a jury must address the chain of events to determine the liability one has in an involuntary manslaughter case.

However, the jurors' questions should bring Baldwin some worry. Gober explained, "This should be even more concerning for Alec Baldwin because he was downstream of Reed, making it likely the Reed jury was considering Baldwin's handling of the firearm a possible intervening event and making it more likely that the Reed jury (and future Baldwin jury) will see a higher level of culpability for Baldwin than for Reed." Because Baldwin was a producer and lead on set, his liability to prevent an incident like the one that unfolded could play into how the jurors decide his verdict.

The fame surrounding the trial can play a crucial role

Because the "Rust" shooting incident played out on a film set and involved a famous celebrity, it can affect and has affected the way that the trials on the case have played out. Attorney Tray Gober explained to Nicki Swift, "The high-profile nature of the trial, coupled with dramatic moments like waving a gun around in the courtroom by a firearms 'expert,' undoubtedly adds a layer of complexity." Gober was referring to Hannah Gutierrez Reed's trial, where firearm expert Frank Louis Blair Koucky III appeared to wave an unloaded firearm while on the witness stand, per The Telegraph.

Gober exclusively told Nicki Swift, "Certainly, a jury may question an expert's qualifications and bias when the expert fails to observe Firearm Safety 101 in a courtroom. Such incidents can disrupt the court's focus on the expert's testimony and potentially sway jury perception." Gober believes that drama like the firearm incident in the courtroom can bring scrutiny to a case and ultimately "impact the jury's ability to remain unbiased."

Essentially, Gober expressed that each legal team in Baldwin's upcoming trial has to take the drama and high profile nature of the case into consideration. He explained, "It's crucial for the legal teams to navigate these waters carefully, ensuring that their respective witnesses don't commit unforced errors that could affect the outcome of the trial." Ultimately, however, we won't see how Baldwin's trial plays out until July 2024.