“Rust” Armorer Had Access to Prop Truck Following On-Set Shooting

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed removed items from Bonanza Creek Ranch after cinematographer’s death, a unit production manager told jurors

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the Rust movie-set armorer on trial this week in Santa Fe, removed items from a prop truck a few days after the on-set death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on October 21, 2021, according to a witness.

Rust unit production manager Katherine Row Walters appeared for the prosecution Friday, making the point that Gutierrez-Reed took away a gun belt and other items from the set. She also said accidental gun discharges happened on the set before the deadly shooting.

But Defense Attorney Jason Bowles also used Walters’ testimony to bolster his argument that potential evidence on the sprawling Bonanza Creek Ranch set wasn’t well controlled.

The truck was one of several locations on the set where investigators removed both live and dummy ammunition, however, the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department didn’t execute a search warrant on the vehicle parked on the set until six days after the shooting. By that time, Walters said, other crew members had also visited the set to remove “personal items.”

Walters said the film crew changed the locks on the truck after the shooting. They unlocked it, she said, when Gutierrez-Reed requested to take items out of the prop truck because she planned to return home in Bullhead City, Arizona after production halted.

Defense attorneys argued in opening statements that the state’s case relies on “evidence that’s already been tampered with.” Bowles asked Walters during cross examination to confirm that during a typical 12 or 13 hour day on set, the prop truck remained open without consistent supervision.

“During the days that filming went on, that truck was open,” Bowles said. “Theoretically everybody on set could’ve had access to that prop truck.”

“Theoretically, yes,” Walters said.

Special prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis allege in the case that Gutierrez-Reed’s negligence led to Hutchins’ death because a gun she prepared for Rust star and producer Alec Baldwin as a prop contained a mixture of live and dummy rounds. Baldwin, who denies pulling the trigger during a rehearsal, faces an involuntary manslaughter charge as well.

Walters testified she never received personal complaints from other film crew about Gutierrez-Reed’s performance. Yet, the day before the shooting, she said, the camera crew cited “safety concerns” and quit. Producers had to scramble to replace them.

“I received resignation emails the night before,” she said. “I believe it was six—the whole team.”

The specific safety concern, she said, was “accidental discharges” that had already happened on the set.

Earlier in the day, as Gutierrez-Reed sat largely emotionless in front of jurors, prosecutors presented evidence they said points to drug use.

Jason Hawks, owner of Hawks Consulting, testified about analysis he conducted on behalf of the state on extracted data from Gutierrez-Reed’s iPhone 12 Pro Max, which investigators took into evidence following the incident.

“Not all of the information is always recovered,” Hawks testified. “But most of the data we see on our phones is accessible to the program.”

He read to the jury from recovered messages projected on screens from the 26-year-old defendant’s phone the night before the October 21, 2021 on-set shooting.

“Right on I might go smoke in the jacuzzi soon but maybe not I’m so pooped,” Gutierrez-Reed wrote to a 505 number.

Then at 7:48, another message: “Headed down to get high out back:b”

First Judicial District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer consented to allow prosecutors to introduce the evidence of Gutierrez-Reed’s alleged off-duty drug use Feb. 14 despite concern from defense attorneys that it could make the jury impartial. Adult cannabis possession and use had been decriminalized earlier that year by state lawmakers.

The former armorer and props assistant faces up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine if convicted of the alleged crimes. The state will continue to present witnesses on Monday at 8:30 am. Marlowe Sommer anticipates the trial lasting until March 8.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misspelled Walters’ first name and has been corrected.

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