(Reuters) – The special prosecutor handling the case against actor Alec Baldwin in the 2021 “Rust” movie set shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins announced on Tuesday she is stepping down, as Baldwin’s lawyers had sought.
The decision by special prosecutor Andrea Reeb came a month after Baldwin’s attorney filed a motion to remove her because she is also a representative in the state legislature. The Baldwin team argued it violates the state constitution for a legislator to serve in another branch of government.
Baldwin on Feb. 23 entered a not guilty plea to a charge of involuntary manslaughter.
Two others have been charged. Armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed will plead not guilty to involuntary manslaughter, her lawyer has said. Assistant Director Dave Hall has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor weapons charge.
“The best way I can ensure justice is served in this case is to step down so that the prosecution can focus on the evidence and the facts, which clearly show a complete disregard for basic safety protocols led to the death of Halyna Hutchins,” Reeb said in a statement. “I will not allow questions about my serving as a legislator and prosecutor to cloud the real issue at hand.”
Mary Carmack-Altwies, New Mexico’s First Judicial District Attorney, did not immediately say who would replace Reeb and declined comment except to say paperwork on Reeb’s removal had been filed with the court.
Baldwin’s lawyer, Luke Nikas, referred through a spokesperson to his motion to disqualify Reeb under the New Mexico constitution’s separation-of-powers provision.
The prosecution initially charged Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed with a firearm enhancement that was later dropped, reducing their possible prison sentence from a minimum of five years to a maximum of 18 months.
Gutierrez-Reed has blamed the shooting on potential sabotage, Baldwin’s lack of firearms training, and a failure by Halls and Baldwin to call her onto set for extra firearm checks.
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Christopher Cushing)