Judge Denies Motion for New Trial and Release of “Rust” Former Armorer

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed’s sentencing hearing set for April 15

News Hannah Gutierrez-Reed attends Friday's virtual court hearing from jail. (Courtesy New Mexico Courts /

Former Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed will stay in jail pending sentencing, and will not have a new trial, First Judicial District Court Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer decided Friday morning.

After fewer than three hours of deliberation, jurors March 6 found Gutierrez-Reed guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the Oct. 21, 2021 on-set shooting death of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins for displaying negligence in her role to ensure firearm safety, but not guilty of an additional evidence tampering charge.

Defense attorneys Jason Bowles and Monnica Barreras on March 15 filed an emergency motion for Gutierrez-Reed’s release and a new trial, citing a March 14 New Mexico Supreme Court ruling in the State of New Mexico v. Taylor case that reversed child abuse convictions on a jury instruction error.

Bowles argued in court that based on the ruling, the jury in Gutierrez-Reed’s case needed to reach a unanimous decision on which specific act the armorer had committed of the alternative theories the state brought forward—whether she loaded a live round into the Colt .45 revolver that star and producer Alec Baldwin held, or if she didn’t perform an adequate safety check. The state repeated the same jury instruction error, he claimed, entitling Gutierrez-Reed to a new trial with different instructions.

“The problem with the verdict under Taylor that we have at this point is we don’t know which act the jury may have found unanimously or whether it was unanimous,” Bowles argued, noting Special Prosecutor Kari Morrissey told jurors during closing arguments there was no requirement for unanimity, despite defense’s overruled objection.

Morrissey, on the other hand, said Bowles’ interpretation misunderstood the court’s conclusion in that case, which supported what occurred during Gutierrez-Reed’s.

“The problem in Taylor was they went beyond ‘and/or’ separating two alternatives, and they had four alternatives, and in addition to that, the acts that were outlined…were legally insufficient to support a conviction,” Morrissey said. “We certainly don’t have that element in this case.”

Marlowe Sommer agreed with Morrissey, noting she had reviewed the Taylor case and was “very aware” of what occurred in Gutierrez-Reed’s trial. Based on her understanding, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruling would not require a new trial for the former armorer.

“I think the issues in this case and the instructions in this case are distinguishable to what happened in Taylor,” Marlowe Sommer said, also denying a motion for release because a death occurred in the case.

The First Judicial District Court scheduled an April 15 sentencing hearing for Gutierrez-Reed, which could result in 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

On a related track, attorneys for Baldwin asked the court March 14 to dismiss his own involuntary manslaughter case in Hutchins’ death, arguing special prosecutors violated court orders in the grand jury proceedings that indicted their client for a second time years after the incident. A hearing has not been scheduled. If his case is not dismissed, Baldwin’s trial will begin July 10.

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