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Judge denies motion to dismiss charges against ‘Rust’ armorer Hannah Gutierrez

Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office via AP

(SANTA FE, N.M.) — A New Mexico judge has denied “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez’s motion to dismiss the charges stemming from the fatal on-set shooting.

Gutierrez was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was shot by actor Alec Baldwin on the Santa Fe set in October 2021. She also faces an additional charge of tampering with evidence, with state prosecutors claiming she handed off a small bag of cocaine following her interview with police the day of the shooting.

Defense attorneys sought to dismiss the charges, arguing there were jurisdictional and structural issues with the case tied to a change in prosecutors and alleged prejudicial statements made to the media.

State District Court Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer denied the motion during a virtual hearing on Tuesday, saying any jurisdictional issues were cured after prosecutors filed an amended criminal information. The judge also said the defense failed to demonstrate “actual and substantial prejudice” to warrant such an “exceptional” remedy as dismissing the charges, and that extrajudicial statements are not something “that need to be addressed at this point.”

“This is at the preliminary stage,” the judge said. “For you to say you’ve basically tainted a jury — we’re not even there yet.”

Gutierrez is scheduled to next appear in court on Aug. 9 for a preliminary hearing.

Prosecutor Kari Morrissey said during Tuesday’s hearing that the defense was asking for “more time to prepare for a preliminary hearing,” and that if the charges were dismissed she could be ready to file a new criminal information “by the end of the day.”

Defense attorney Jason Bowles countered that he was not trying to buy more time. “My intent is that the whole proceeding not be infected with jurisdictional and structural error,” he said.

The judge was also scheduled to consider a motion filed by the state seeking to protect the identity of a witness who claimed Gutierrez “transferred a small bag of cocaine” to them after she returned from her interview at the police station on the day of the shooting.

During the hearing, Morrissey said they are withdrawing the motion for the protective order after consulting with the witness Monday night. The witness has agreed not to pursue a protective order, Morrissey said.

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