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The trial begins

Updated on: 11 July,2024 06:27 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Agencies |

Jury is seated in Alec Baldwin’s involuntary manslaughter trial in New Mexico

The trial begins

Alec Baldwin

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The trial begins

Sixteen jurors were seated on Tuesday for Alec Baldwin’s involuntary manslaughter trial in New Mexico, where opening statements started on Wednesday. Five men and 11 women were chosen by Santa Fe County special prosecutors and the actor’s team of defence attorneys. Twelve will be designated as the jury and four as alternates by the court only after they hear the case.

They’ll be tasked with deciding whether Baldwin committed the felony when, during a rehearsal in October 2021, a revolver went off while he was pointing it at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza on the set of the film, Rust.

Media members were not allowed in the courtroom when attorneys used their challenges to strike jurors. Those sworn into the jury were told to avoid news about the case and to report on Wednesday morning. Baldwin, 66, could get up to 18 months in prison if the jurors unanimously find him guilty.

When Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer asked the pool of 70 possible jurors if they were familiar with the case, all but two raised their hands to indicate they were. Two others indicated they would not be able to be fair and impartial and were excused.

Baldwin, the star of 30 Rock (2006) and The Hunt for Red October (1990) and a major Hollywood figure for 35 years, sat in the courtroom with a team of four lawyers. His wife, Hilaria Baldwin, and brother, The Usual Suspects (1995) actor Stephen Baldwin, were seated in the back of the courtroom.

Under questioning from prosecutor Kari Morrissey, a potential juror said she hates firearms, but many others acknowledged owning them and few people expressed strong opinions about guns. Baldwin’s lawyer Alex Spiro in his questioning highlighted the gravity of the situation “obviously someone lost their life” and asked jurors to come forward with any reservations about their own ability to be fair and impartial.

“Does anyone have that view, even in the slightest?” Spiro asked the group. He asked them to come forward if they’d shared opinions about the case online. None did. Spiro asked if any of them had strong opinions on gun safety, and whether a person can rely on an expert to ensure the safety of a gun, not just themselves.

Several said they always treat a gun as if it were loaded. One man said he was taught to respect and treat guns the same way, but also deferred to an instructor during instruction he got for a concealed carry permit.

Spiro also asked whether jurors were comfortable questioning the judgment of law enforcement officials, even those testifying under oath. Baldwin and his wife arrived at the courthouse early with their youngest child, Ilaria Catalina Irena Baldwin. 

Baldwin has said the gun fired accidentally after he followed instructions to point it toward Hutchins, who was behind the camera. Unaware that the gun contained a live round, Baldwin said he pulled back the hammer, not the trigger, and it fired.

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