Alec Baldwin's attorneys said Thursday that the gun used in the "Rust" movie set shooting was destroyed by authorities in New Mexico. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI. | License Photo
March 9 (UPI) -- Late Thursday, the District Attorney's office clarified the status of the gun involved in the shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film Rust, refuting claims by Alec Baldwin's attorney on Thursday that it had been destroyed.
"The court, I don't think is aware of this point, but I think I should tell the court that the firearm in this case ... was destroyed by the state," Alex Spiro, one of Baldwin's lawyers, said during a hearing earlier in the day, according to CNBC. "That's obviously an issue and we're going to need to see that firearm, or what's left of it."
But a spokesperson for New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies later responded, saying Spiro may have misunderstood what happened to the gun. Spokeswoman Heather Brewer said the gun "still exists."
"The defense's unexpected statement in the status hearing today that the gun had been destroyed by the state may be a reference to a statement in the FBI's July 2022 firearms testing report that said damage was done to internal components of the gun during the FBI's functionality testing," Brewer said in a statement, ABC News reports. "However, the gun still exists and can be used as evidence."
Baldwin, 64, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the 2021 shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film.
Baldwin was formally charged by Santa Fe County District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, along with Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, last month after an investigation assisted by the FBI.
He faces a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison if he is found guilty at the upcoming trial.
That sentence could have been longer because special prosecutor Andrea Reeb had originally charged Baldwin with a firearm enhancement that would add five more years to his sentence if convicted. However, Baldwin's lawyers had argued that the enhancement was unconstitutional because the relevant law had not yet taken effect at the time of the incident.
Balwin also has sought to have Reeb recuse herself.
Reeb is simultaneously serving as special prosecutor on the Rust case while serving as a Republican state legislator, even though the state's constitution prohibits a member of one branch from exercising the power of another branch.
However, the District Attorney's office has argued that special prosecutors do not fit squarely within any branch.
The film's production has been on hold since the 2021 shooting incident but is scheduled to resume at the Yellowstone Film Ranch in Montana, ABC News has reported.