Alec Baldwin could face prison time in fatal 'Rust' shooting, but experts say evidence may be 'problematic'

If Alec Baldwin is charged again with involuntary manslaughter in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, he could once again face prison time.

Hutchins died Oct. 21, 2021, after a gun the actor was holding fired on the set of "Rust." Special prosecutor Kari Morrissey told Fox News Digital Wednesday new charges against Baldwin are being "considered," but a "final decision" has yet to be made after new evidence surfaced in the case.

However, legal experts believe the move is unlikely. 

"You can't bring charges again unless you know that you're going to win," former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani told Fox News Digital.


Actor Alec Baldwin attends the "Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation" New York premiere at Times Square on July 27, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)

New charges against Baldwin are being considered after experts, commissioned by the special prosecution, concluded Baldwin had to have pulled the trigger for the gun to fire.

"Although Alec Baldwin repeatedly denies pulling the trigger, given the tests, findings and observations reported here, the trigger had to be pulled or depressed sufficiently to release the fully cocked or retracted hammer of the evidence revolver," the report, obtained by Fox News Digital, states. 

"This fatal incident was the consequence of the hammer being manually retracted to its fully rearward and cocked position followed, at some point, by the pull or rearward depression of the trigger."

Rahmani pointed out that the new report doesn't necessarily contain new information. The district attorney's office has always said  Baldwin had to have pulled the trigger, confirmed by an FBI ballistics report released in August 2022.


The FBI performed an accidental discharge test and found that the gun used in the fatal shooting of Hutchins "could not be made to fire without a pull of the trigger," according to the report obtained by ABC News. The test showed that if the revolver's hammer was in the quarter or half-cocked positions, the gun would not fire. 

When the hammer was in the fully cocked position, the gun "could not be made to fire without a pull of the trigger while the working internal components were intact and functional."

"I just don't think any of this is really new information, and this case was already such a black eye for the prosecution," Rahmani explained. "For them to wade back into this, I would be surprised."

Prosecutors dismissed involuntary manslaughter charges against Baldwin in April, but noted in a June 9 filing they would refile if it was found the revolver hadn't been modified.


While the new experts found that the gun wasn't modified, the gun, which had been damaged by the FBI during the original testing, had to be reconstructed to conduct the new tests. A legal expert told Fox News Digital that "tinkering" with evidence leads to problems.

"This expert’s report does bolster the prosecution’s case a bit. But it is problematic that he had to reconstruct the gun with new parts," personal injury lawyer Miguel Custodio, a partner at Custodio & Dubey, said. "Once you start tinkering with evidence like that, it’s easy for Alec Baldwin’s defense to say, ‘The gun didn’t work properly to begin with, and the FBI damaged it. Putting it back together again doesn’t prove anything.’ And it’s true, whenever you alter evidence, you have problems.


"I just don’t think it’s enough to recharge Baldwin yet. I also have wondered why the special prosecutors put pressure on themselves earlier this year that they would make a decision by mid-August on whether to file charges against Baldwin. Clearly, they were waiting for this report. It seems they have really struggled with strategically trying to charge him, and I think this report is flimsy evidence to recharge him on," Custodio explained.

Kate Mangels, partner at Kinsella Holley Iser Kump Steinsapir LLP (KHIKS), emphasized that the "validity" of the evidence could "easily be called into question" due to the reconstruction of the gun.

"Defense attorneys would argue that a test on a reconstructed gun with new parts cannot be proof of what occurred with the original gun," she told Fox News Digital.

The new report doesn't take away from Baldwin's original potential defense, according to Mangels.

"Even if the evidence from the new report is valid and compelling, the prosecution still faces significant hurdles in obtaining a conviction as to Baldwin," Mangels noted. "Regardless of whether there is proof he pulled the trigger, Baldwin will still be able to maintain a defense that he had no reason to know the gun was loaded and that he did not act recklessly in pulling the trigger." 

If Baldwin is charged again, he'll face up to 18 months in prison for involuntary manslaughter. However, special prosecutors could also choose to charge him with something different – possibly a lesser count.

Assistant Director Dave Halls pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon and did not serve jail time. He was sentenced to six months unsupervised probation. Negligent use of a deadly weapon is a route the prosection could choose to go with Baldwin, but Rahmani noted that the charge would be "a slap on the wrist."

"You either file real charges or you don't," he said. "If you really believe that he's responsible for someone's death, then you should charge him with involuntary manslaughter."


Baldwin has maintained he did not pull the trigger of the gun in multiple interviews since the fatal shooting Oct. 21, 2021. The actor described the moment the gun was discharged during a TV appearance in December 2021, months after the fatal shooting.

"I let go of the hammer of the gun," Baldwin told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. "And the gun goes off."

Baldwin and Hutchins had been setting up for a shot in which the actor was supposed to draw the gun and point it at the camera. While standing next to the camera, the cinematographer was "guiding" Baldwin on where to point the gun, he said.

"The gun wasn't meant to be fired in that angle," he confirmed. "I didn't pull the trigger. The gun was supposed to be empty."

The only other person to handle the gun that day was Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the film's armorer. Gutierrez-Reed has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and recently waived her right to a preliminary hearing.

The armorer's trial will begin in December.

Recharging Baldwin could also affect the prosecution's ability to convict Gutierrez-Reed, one legal expert told Fox News Digital.


"The prosecution will need to determine strategically if having charges against Baldwin strengthens or weakens their case overall," Mangels explained. "If the prosecution feels they have a strong case against the armorer, charging Baldwin could distract a jury from the case against the armorer. Particularly if the charges against Baldwin are weak, they risk not being able to obtain convictions on either." 

On top of the involuntary manslaughter charge, Gutierrez-Reed also faces a charge of evidence tampering. The prosecution has accused the armorer of passing off a bag of drugs on the day of the fatal shooting.

Jason Bowles, Gutierrez-Reed's lawyer, slammed the move as "retaliatory and vindictive" in a statement at the time the new charge was announced.

"Something is rotten in Denmark," Bowles told Fox News Digital. "It is shocking that after 20 months of investigation, the special prosecutor now throws in a completely new charge against Ms. Gutierrez-Reed with no prior notice or any witness statements, lab reports or evidence to support it.

"This comes on the heels of the state letting its lead investigator go, and the investigator raising serious concerns about the investigation in an email. This stinks to high heaven and is retaliatory and vindictive."

Find more updates on this story at