New Mexico prosecutors on Thursday evening confirmed they would be dropping criminal charges that were brought against actor Alec Baldwin for theon the set of his Western movie “Rust.” Baldwin was holding a gun while rehearsing a scene when it went off, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.
In a statement, special prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis announced that the involuntary manslaughter charges would be dismissed after “new facts were revealed that demand further investigation and forensic analysis.”
Those new facts were discovered over “the last few days” while preparing for a preliminary hearing that was scheduled for May 3, the special prosecutors said.
“We will therefore be dismissing the involuntary manslaughter charges against Mr. Baldwin to conduct further investigation,” the statement read. The prosecutors noted that the charges may be refilled at a later date, pending the outcome of their investigation.
The nature of the new evidence was not provided. The statement noted that the involuntary manslaughter charges against the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, “remain unchanged.”
Baldwin’s attorneys had said earlier in the day that the charges against their client would be dismissed.
“We are pleased with the decision to dismiss the case against Alec Baldwin and we encourage a proper investigation into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident,” Baldwin’s attorneys Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro said in a statement to CBS News.
The news was first reported by entertainment news outlet deadlines.com,
Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed werein January. In February, prosecutors that would have required each of them to serve a mandatory five-year sentence if convicted.
CBS News legal contributor Jessica Levinson noted that District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies appointed two new special prosecutors to take over the case at the end of March.
“We have to basically surmise that they didn’t think they could prove this beyond a reasonable doubt to a juror,” Levinson said.
Baldwin has long denied pulling the gun’s trigger, but prosecutors said the weapon couldn’t fire unless the trigger was pressed.
Levinson noted that a possible new theory of the case could focus more on Gutierrez-Reed.
“If it’s her fault, if she’s the one who engaged in criminal conduct, then it does make sense, based on a theory of the case, to say, well, he could have trusted her,” Levinson said.
One of Gutierrez-Reed’s attorneys, Jason Bowles, told CBS News on Thursday that although the charges against her haven’t been dropped, he expects she will be exonerated.
“The new special prosecutor team has taken a very diligent and thorough approach to the entire investigation, which we welcome and have always welcomed,” Bowles and attorney Todd Bullion said in a statement. “They are seeking the truth and we are too. The truth about what happened will come out and the questions that we have long sought answers for will be answered. We fully expect at the end of this process that Hannah will also be exonerated.”