New Mexico's special prosecutor in 'Rust' manslaughter case steps down after pressure from Alec Baldwin's lawyers

"After much reflection, I have made the difficult decision to step down as special prosecutor in the 'Rust' case.”

The special prosecutor in the fatal shooting on the "Rust" movie set case against Alec Baldwin has announced she is stepping down from the role. 

On Tuesday, Andrea Reeb said in a statement shared by the office of New Mexico's First Judicial District Attorney, "After much reflection, I have made the difficult decision to step down as special prosecutor in the 'Rust' case.”

"My priority in this case—and in every case I’ve prosecuted in my 25-year career—has been justice for the victim,” the statement continued. “However, it has become clear that 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. I will not allow questions about my serving as a legislator and prosecutor to cloud the real issue at hand."

Baldwin's lawyer filed a motion last month to have Reeb removed from the "Rust" case days after the actor was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection to the death of Halyna who died on Oct. 21, 2021, after a gun held by Baldwin fired and the cinematographer during a rehearsal on the New Mexico set.

Baldwin has previously stated that he did not pull the trigger and pleaded not guilty to the charges last month. 

According to court documents, Baldwin's lawyers argued Reeb couldn’t serve as the special prosecutor and simultaneously as a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives as doing so “vests two core powers of different branches – legislating and prosecuting – in the same person and is thus barred by the plain language of Article III of the New Mexico Constitution."

Baldwin’s lawyers added, "Were the arrangement here approved by the courts, future District Attorneys could seek to curry favor with legislators who control their budgets by appointing them to high-profile cases – distorting the legislative process.”

On Tuesday, Luke Nikas, attorney for Baldwin, cited the previous motion to have Reeb disqualified in response to her resignation and referenced the section that said there is "no question that Representative Reeb is violating both the plain text and the purpose of the New Mexico Constitution’s separation-of-powers provision by serving simultaneously as a legislator and a prosecutor."

Previously Reeb dropped a firearms sentencing enhancement against Baldwin and former "Rust" armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed because the law that allowed for the enhancements was not applicable at the time of the shooting, a fact that was pointed out by Balwin’s lawyers and helped the filmmakers avoid years in prison if convicted.

Baldwin aces up to 18 months in jail if found guilty. Gutierrez-Reed was also charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter but has not yet entered a plea.

Earlier this year, David Halls, Rust’s first assistant director,  pleaded guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon and received a suspended six-month sentence of unsupervised probation.

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