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Alec Baldwin ‘Rust’ shooting trial: Wife with baby in tow a ‘strategic’ move, expert says


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SANTA FE, N.M. Her husband is the actor, but some legal experts believe Hilaria Baldwin staged some theatrics of her own Tuesday morning at a press-swarmed New Mexico courthouse.

With her spouse, Alec Baldwin, facing a felony manslaughter charge, the polarizing yogi showed up to the sun-baked Santa Fe building in a black SUV with the couple’s baby in tow shortly before jury selection got underway.

The toddler, one of the couple’s seven children, was taken out of the car. Hilaria held the baby girl in view of the cameras before quickly handing her off to a caretaker. The baby and the caretaker departed in the same SUV moments later.

Legal observers speculated the Baldwins wanted to humanize the churlish actor in the eyes of the public and perhaps even potential jurors.

ALEC BALDWIN ‘RUST’ TRIAL: JUDGE MAKES MAJOR RULING IN ACTOR’S FAVOR

Actor Alec Baldwin, left, and wife Hilaria Baldwin, holding their child, arrive for jury selection in his involuntary manslaughter trial Tuesday, July 9, 2024, in Santa Fe, N.M. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

“The bringing of the child is unusual because it’s not really a great place for a child,” divorce attorney Christopher C. Melcher told Fox News Digital. “And you’ve got to think, if they have care with a nanny, why bring the child other than for show?”

The Baldwins, he said, knew images of the mother and child arriving at the courthouse would quickly cascade online.

“They could have afforded child care. A courthouse is not really a place for a child. So, it does seem to be strategic.”

— Christopher C. Melcher, divorce attorney

“There’s many people who have to go to court, and they have no child care, and they’re stuck bringing their kid to court,” Melcher said. “That happens quite often. But, you know, this is not the situation with the Baldwins. They could have afforded child care. A courthouse is not really a place for a child. So, it does seem to be strategic.”

WATCH: Alec Baldwin leaves court after jury is selected for actor’s ‘Rust’ shooting trial

Known for his volcanic temper and confrontations with both the press and public, Baldwin’s reputation, some have theorized, could hurt his case.

“As a defense attorney, you always want to humanize someone that’s on trial, to show that they’re more than this incident that’s under a microscope,” said New Mexico-based attorney Elizabeth Bunker. “Having family support can show the jury that a lot of people care about the outcome of this case and can subtly encourage them to really dig deep and pay attention to the facts.”

Bunker cautioned, however, that Hilaria and company’s appearance could also induce eye rolls among Santa Fe residents.

“On the flip side, doing too much empathy-garnering can backfire,” she said. “If there’s any sense of desperation, my experience is that, naturally, jurors will reject anything inauthentic and too performance-like.”

ALEC BALDWIN ‘RUST’ SHOOTING TRIAL: FATAL TIMELINE THAT LED TO ACTOR’S INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER CHARGE

Hilaria Baldwin wears off-the-shoulder blouse with husband Alec Baldwin.

Alec and Hilaria have been married for 12 years and have seven children together. (Getty Images)

While the artsy New Mexico town has attracted its share of chic residents over the years, one lawyer warned that many locals, including potential jurors, are likely less fixated on celebrity and may even harbor a distaste for the rich and famous.

“The risk is it could backfire if people think you have a nanny 24 hours a day,” said New York-based lawyer Mark Bederow. “Why would you have the baby come out of the SUV just to hand the baby off as though it’s a prop. It could be perceived as a contrived way to garner public support and positive coverage.”

The actor recently announced plans to star in the TLC reality show “The Baldwins,” alongside his wife and kids, which he wrote would showcase his family’s “ups and downs, the good, the bad, the wild and the crazy.”

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Stephen Baldwin exits the courthouse during Alec Baldwin's trial.

Actor Stephen Baldwin, brother of actor Alec Baldwin, exits the courthouse Tuesday, July 9, 2024, in Santa Fe, N.M. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

But the embattled actor, Melcher added, was faced with a largely unwinnable public relations quandary. Hilaria’s absence, he noted, would have spawned questions about her lack of support for her man.

“With the stakes being so high, you would expect that you would have supporters there, close family would be there,” he said. “I think the absence of her would have hurt.” 

PHOTOS: Alec Baldwin and his wife, Hilaria Baldwin, leave courthouse after jury selection

Baldwin’s brother, Stephen Baldwin, also showed up to court Tuesday and sat with Hilaria in the back row of the courtroom. 

After a two-hour delay in the morning, jury selection began around 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. A jury of 16, including four alternates, was chosen to hear arguments in the involuntary manslaughter case. Eleven of the chosen jurors are women, and five are men.
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Baldwin accidentally fired a gun on the set of the film “Rust” in October 2021, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza. Facing up to 18 months in jail if convicted, he has pleaded not guilty.

The “30 Rock” actor has insisted that he cocked the gun’s hammer but never pulled the trigger. Prosecutors have countered that the pistol could not have discharged absent Baldwin squeezing off a round.

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