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Could Alec Baldwin go to jail over fatal Rust shooting?

A grand jury has again charged Alec Baldwin with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the 2021 fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie, Rust.

What does this second charge now mean for the Hollywood icon?

Why is Alec Baldwin facing charges for a second time?

Early last year, a grand jury charged the actor with involuntary manslaughter after he killed Ms Hutchins during a rehearsal for the movie Rust. He was pointing the gun at her when it went off, killing her and wounding Joel Souza, the film’s director. They were filming just outside Santa Fe, New Mexico on 21 October 2021 when the incident occurred.

Mr Baldwin has previously said he pulled back the gun’s hammer, but not the trigger, when the weapon fired.

Special prosecutors dismissed that initial charge in April 2023, saying the gun may have malfunctioned after being modified before the shooting.

19 January 2024’s second indictment came after prosecutors received new analysis of the gun from ballistics experts and forensic testing indicating the trigger had to have been pulled or depressed.

How much jail time does involuntary manslaughter carry?

On 19 January 2024, a Santa Fe, New Mexico grand jury charged Mr Baldwin with involuntary manslaughter, which is a fourth-degree felony.

In the state of New Mexico, fourth-degree felonies can carry a sentence of 18 months and can include a $5,000 fine.

“We look forward to our day in court,” Baldwin’s lawyers, Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro, said in a statement following the second indictment.

What happens now?

Mr Baldwin and his attorneys can enter a formal plea with or without a court arraignment, which would lead to a trial, according to the Associated Press.

Prosecutors can take two paths from here, AP reports. The first would be to claim negligent use of a firearm by Mr Baldwin, while the second option would be to prove Mr Baldwin caused Ms Hutchins’ death by acting without due caution, that is, by committing an act “with total disregard or indifference for the safety of others”.

Meanwhile, the weapons supervisor on the movie set, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, is also facing a charge of involuntary manslaughter, as well as an evidence tampering charge in connection with Ms Hutchins’ death. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Her trial began on 21 February.