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Alec Baldwin’s ‘Rust’ armorer’s demand for new trial ‘uphill battle’ following conviction: expert

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Hannah Gutierrez Reed’s demand for a new trial after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter will be an “uphill battle,” an expert told Fox News Digital.

The “Rust” armorer will return to court Friday to argue for a new trial and an immediate release from prison. Gutierrez Reed faces up to 18 months in prison, in addition to a $5,000 fine, after a jury convicted her of involuntary manslaughter in early March in the shooting of Halyna Hutchins on the set of “Rust.”

“Gutierrez Reed has an uphill battle both in her motion for a new trial and eventual appeal,” former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani told Fox News Digital. “Though the judge ruled that the jurors have to be unanimous on the manslaughter charge (there were two), they did not have to be unanimous on how the live rounds got on set.

“That is generally a correct statement of the law,” he added. “The verdict has to be unanimous, but not how the jurors get there.”

ALEC BALDWIN LIKELY ‘NERVOUS’ FOR ‘RUST’ TRIAL AFTER ARMORER FOUND GUILTY OF INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER: EXPERT

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed holds a gun, pictured in New Mexico court on day one of Rust trial

Hannah Gutierrez Reed is requesting a new trial after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the “Rust” shooting.  (Courtesy: New Mexico Courts)

The armorer’s trial, which began Feb. 21, included testimony from weapons experts, FBI and Santa Fe County authorities and crew members who witnessed the fatal shooting.

However, her legal team doesn’t believe the jury was given proper instructions. According to Gutierrez Reed’s lawyer, Jason Bowles, the instructions “could confuse the jury and lead to a non-unanimous verdict.”

Bowles cited a New Mexico Supreme Court ruling in a motion for a new trial in court documents obtained by Fox News Digital.

“In Taylor, the Court reversed child abuse convictions on jury instruction error,” the documents state. “Specifically, the Court criticized the use of and/or in listing various acts the jury could find committed by the defendants. The Court also noted that such drafting of the instructions could confuse the jury and lead to a non-unanimous verdict on any particular act.

“This is precisely the argument that Ms. Gutierrez Reed made in jury instruction arguments before this Court.”

ALEC BALDWIN’S ‘RUST’ ARMORER CONVICTED OF INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER 

Rust movie set

The set of “Rust,” where the shooting took place. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

WATCH: ALEC BALDWIN DODGES QUESTIONS ABOUT INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER TRIAL

Gutierrez Reed’s team brought up the possibility of jury instruction error before the trial, but “these arguments were overruled, and the State made the same instructional error in this case, using ‘and/or’ acts and allowing the jury to not be unanimous on any one particular act.”

Special prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis argued that the jury instructions were “neither confusing nor legally insufficient.”

“While the Court makes it clear that the use of ‘and/or’ should be avoided in jury instructions, the test for determining whether instructions are legally insufficient is far more complex,” the prosecution wrote in the reply, obtained by Fox News Digital.

Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed stands in court wearing black turtleneck

Hannah Gutierrez Reed was convicted of involuntary manslaughter March 6. (Courtesy: New Mexico Courts)

Jim Brosnahan, who represented the production company involved in the on-set shooting of “The Crow,” explained that Gutierrez Reed does have a shot at a new trial because criminal cases typically do require a unanimous verdict.

“If that’s true in these instructions, the chance of a new trial are much better,” he told Fox News Digital. “There are many cases in other states that require unanimity in criminal cases. The case in the New Mexico Supreme Court should help a lot on appeal if not by the trial court.”

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If Gutierrez Reed is granted a new trial, she could be acquitted.

“It would be a new jury,” Brosnahan explained. “There would have been a pall cast over the first jury because of the judge granting a new trial and instructions in the new trial that the jury should disregard anything that they know about any prior proceedings. Those words ‘prior proceedings’ are usually the ones used, so I think she’d have a decent chance at acquittal.”

Hannah Gutierrez Reed being led out of court

Hannah Gutierrez Reed looks at her mother, Stacy Reed, as she is taken into custody after the guilty verdict during her trial March 6, 2024, in Santa Fe, N.M.  (Luis Sánchez Saturno/Pool/Getty Images)

Hutchins, the “Rust” cinematographer, died after being shot by a gun actor Alec Baldwin was holding while staging a scene in a small church at Bonanza Creek Ranch in 2021. Baldwin will head to court for his own involuntary manslaughter trial in July, and Gutierrez Reed getting a new trial could affect his own, Rahmani explained.

“There are many different theories of why Baldwin was criminally negligent,” the West Coast Trial Lawyers founder told Fox News Digital. “He didn’t check the gun, he pointed it at another human being and he pulled the trigger even though he denied it. The jurors don’t have to all agree on what made him negligent, but they have to agree that he was criminally negligent to convict.”

Alec Baldwin on set of "Rust"

Alec Baldwin will head to court in July for his own involuntary manslaughter trial. (Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department)

Halyna hutchins

Halyna Hutchins died after being shot on the set of “Rust” in October 2021. (Fred Hayes/Getty Images for SAGindie)

Brosnahan doesn’t believe Gutierrez Reed and Baldwin’s cases are similar. 

“Alec Baldwin was not in charge of safety. In fact, he has an excellent argument that someone else was in charge of safety,” he explained. “He also can argue reasonably that he relied on the fact that he knew there was someone else in charge of safety. 

“Even greater than those arguments, Alec Baldwin has the argument of practice, habit and reasonable anticipation all pointing to a gun with blanks. It appears that he had no knowledge that the gun had a live bullet. And based on his experience and expertise, perhaps other actors could testify that he had every reason to believe that the gun only had blanks.”

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During Gutierrez Reed’s trial, the prosecution largely focused on Gutierrez Reed’s behavior as an armorer, claiming she didn’t do her job correctly.

“Hannah Gutierrez knew that Baldwin was loose. She knew it,” Morrissey said during closing arguments. “She didn’t do anything about it, even though it was her job. It was her job. It is her job to say to an A-list actor, if in fact, that’s what you want to call him, ‘Hey, you can’t behave that way with those firearms.’ That is her job. That is what they pay her for. That is the job that she applied for. That is the job that she accepted.”

Hannah Gutierrez Reed sits in court

Gutierrez Reed’s trial began with jury selection Feb. 21. (Courtesy: New Mexico Courts)

Gutierrez Reed’s legal team told the jury the prosecution hadn’t presented enough evidence to convict the armorer of involuntary manslaughter.

“They can’t come in here with a straight face and mock us and criticize us and tell you they have given you enough to convict her beyond a reasonable doubt because they haven’t,” Bowles said.

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Bowles claimed there were factors outside of Gutierrez Reed’s control that occurred on set, leading to the fatal shooting.

“Whoever put the live round on set and then Mr. Baldwin, in the end, going off script and doing what he did,” the lawyer said. “Those are outside events outside of Ms. Gutierrez Reed’s control that she didn’t know was going to happen.”

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