Alec Baldwin shown Halyna Hutchins' final moments as star's manslaughter trial starts

11 July 2024, 04:34 | Updated: 11 July 2024, 06:56

Alec Baldwin has gone from a movie role to a manslaughter trial.

As a Hollywood veteran of four decades, he is used to the media glare but this trial is putting him under a spotlight and a level of scrutiny that is entirely unfamiliar.

As he walked into the courthouse in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Baldwin was surrounded by TV cameras.

He remained silent as he was asked a number of questions by reporters. How was he feeling? Would he be a free man in a fortnight? Is he worried about going to prison? Was he responsible for the death of Halyna Hutchins?

The latter is the core question a jury will consider over the next two weeks.

It is not disputed that Ms Hutchins was killed by a live bullet discharged by a gun he pointed at her.

But the prosecution and defence are presenting starkly different narratives around what happened and why.

The state of New Mexico says that Baldwin showed a "reckless disregard" for gun safety, while the defence maintains he followed industry protocol and couldn't possibly have imagined there would be live bullets on set.

Alec Baldwin walked into the courtroom on the second floor of the First Judicial District Courthouse together with his wife Hilaria, mother to seven of his children.

She took her seat in the front row of the public gallery, while her husband sat in the dock, flanked by his two defence lawyers.

He was smartly dressed in a dark suit, patterned tie and thick-framed glasses. He listened intently throughout, looking sombre as the court was shown body camera video of the frantic efforts to save the life of Ms Hutchins, a rising star in the world of cinematography.

Baldwin's actor brother Stephen and his sister, Beth, were also in court and could be seen talking to their sibling during morning and lunchtime breaks in the hearing.

Erlinda Johnson, for the prosecution, began her opening statement by displaying a picture of Halyna Hutchins on the evidence TV screen.

She could be seen smiling as the sun set over the Bonanza Creek ranch, with a wooden church film set behind her. It was inside that building, days later that she was shot dead. The prosecution argues that Baldwin is partly to blame.

"The evidence will show, ladies and gentlemen," Ms Johnson said, "that, like in many workplaces, there are people who act in a reckless manner and place other individuals in danger and act without due regard for the safety of others. That you will hear was the defendant, Alexander Baldwin, the lead actor on this film."

Two months after the October 2021 tragedy which left Halyna Hutchins dead, Alec Baldwin gave an interview to ABC in which he denied pulling the trigger on the gun.

His defence lawyer, in his opening statement, appeared to be preparing to walk back that claim.

Alex Spiro said: "On a movie set you're allowed to pull the trigger, so even if he did pull the trigger as the prosecution demonstrated, that doesn't make him guilty of homicide. He didn't know or have any reason to know that gun was loaded with live bullet."

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The trial is expected to last eight days, not including jury deliberations.

One question looming large over proceedings is whether Baldwin himself will take the stand.

It would add some Hollywood drama to proceedings but is a potentially risky move for the defence.