‘Rust’ armorer faces new charge of tampering with evidence

‘Rust’ armorer faces new charge of tampering with evidence
US actor Alec Baldwin (centre) arrives for a hearing at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York in 2019. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Justin Lane)

June 22 (Reuters) - The armorer for the movie "Rust" transferred drugs to someone on the day the film's cinematographer was shot dead in 2021, special prosecutors said on Thursday as she faced a new charge of tampering with evidence.

By Andrew Hay

Prosecutors said the additional charge against Hannah Gutierrez-Reed related to the Oct. 21, 2021, transfer of “narcotics to another person with the intent to prevent the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of herself.”

Gutierrez-Reed’s lawyer Jason Bowles said in a statement that she intended to plead not guilty to the new charge as well as an existing one of involuntary manslaughter for the death of Halyna Hutchins on a film set outside Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The new charge was announced as the lead investigator for the Santa Fe district attorney’s office, who is set to step down in July, raised serious concerns about the local sheriff’s investigation into the shooting and its October 2022 final report.

“The conduct of the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office during and after their initial investigation is reprehensible and unprofessional,” Robert Shilling wrote in an email sent to prosecutors on Tuesday after they decided to remove him from the case. “Not I or 200 more proficient investigators than I can/could clean up the mess delivered to your office in October 2022.”

Shilling declined further comment on the email made public by Bowles in a Thursday court filing. Special prosecutors and the SFCSO did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Bowles was sent Shilling’s message in error then asked to delete it by prosecutors, according to emails in the court filing. Bowles called the new charge “retaliatory and vindictive” and described the email exchange as “beyond troubling,” saying it backed his motion for the case to be dismissed.”

Gutierrez-Reed is the only person still facing charges for Hutchins’ death. The cinematographer died after Gutierrez-Reed said she mistakenly loaded a live round into a revolver actor Alec Baldwin was rehearsing with, according to a transcript of a police interview.

(Reporting by Andrew HayEditing by Chris Reese, Matthew Lewis and Diane Craft)


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