Prosecutors in the US state of New Mexico have denied claims made by Alec Baldwin’s lawyers that state authorities destroyed the firearm that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie Rust.
Alex Spiro, a lawyer for the 64-year-old actor said: “The court, I don’t think is aware of this point, but I think I should tell the court that the firearm in this case… was destroyed by the state.
“That’s obviously an issue and we’re going to need to see that firearm, or what’s left of it.”
Prosecutors did not respond during Thursday’s hearing, but in a statement to Sky News, Heather Brewer, spokesperson for New Mexico’s First Judicial District Attorney’s office, said Mr Spiro’s claim is false.
She said: “The gun Alec Baldwin used in the shooting that killed Halyna Hutchins has not been destroyed by the state. The gun is in evidence and is available for the defence to review.
“The defence’s unexpected statement in the status hearing today that the gun had been destroyed by the state may be a reference to a statement in the FBI’s July 2022 firearms testing report that said damage was done to internal components of the gun during the FBI’s functionality testing.
“However, the gun still exists and can be used as evidence.”
Baldwin is the star and producer of the film and he was holding the gun when it killed Hutchins, although he has denied pulling the trigger.
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He and the film’s original armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed are charged with two types of involuntary manslaughter, following the October 2021 fatal shooting, charges they both deny.
During a virtual hearing, which Baldwin did not attend, Mr Spiro said the actor “wants his day in court” as a preliminary investigation hearing was set for the beginning of May.
The lawyer also noted that prosecutors currently have a 46-strong list of witnesses, and requested this be provided to the defence as soon as possible.
Judge Mary Marlow Sommer set a deadline of 17 April for the state to supply Baldwin’s counsel with the list.
She also set a preliminary investigation hearing, scheduled to last two weeks, to start on 3 May. During this time it will be decided whether or not there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial.
Prior to this, another hearing will be held on March 27 to review a motion, filed by Baldwin’s lawyers, about the disqualification of special prosecutor Andrea Reeb.
The actor’s representatives previously argued that Ms Reeb’s involvement in the case was “unconstitutional”, due to her elected position in the New Mexico House of Representatives.
Meanwhile, a number of lawsuits have been launched against Baldwin and others regarding Hutchins’s death, including by her husband Matthew, her parents and her sister. A settlement was reached late in January.
Three crew members are also among those to have started legal action, saying they have suffered anxiety and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder since the shooting.