The first assistant director for “Rust” has been sentenced to six months unsupervised probation as part of a plea deal in connection with the fatal on-set shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
David Halls, 63, was charged with negligent use of a deadly weapon in connection with the October 2021 shooting on the Santa Fe set of the Western. Halls had handed a Colt .45 revolver to Alec Baldwin that fired while the actor was practicing a cross-draw, striking Hutchins. Attorneys for Halls and Baldwin have said neither knew there were any live rounds in the firearm.
During a virtual plea hearing on Friday, Halls pleaded no contest to his misdemeanor charge. He answered the judge’s questions though did not make any further statement on the incident.
“He, like many others, is extremely traumatized and just rattled with guilt and so many other feelings of, what could I have done better? How could I have changed things?” his attorney, Lisa Torraco, said during the hearing.
Torraco asked the judge for a deferred sentence and argued that his role as safety coordinator was not to control how people handled firearms but to ensure there were safety meetings held.
“Mr. Halls is in a lot of pain and a lot of trauma. He was 3 feet from Ms. Hutchins when the firearm went off. No one expected this,” Torraco said.
Prosecutor Kari Morrissey argued that as safety coordinator, it was Halls’ responsibility to ensure that the firearm did not have any live rounds and that there had been previous safety issues on set involving firearm discharges.
“Obviously this was a very serious incident. A young woman lost her life,” Morrissey said while asking for a suspended sentence.
Judge Mary Marlowe Sommers ultimately sided with the state, telling Halls, “I am not persuaded that a deferred sentence is appropriate for you in this case.”
In addition to six months unsupervised probation, the terms of the sentence include that Halls pay a $500 fine, perform 24 hours of community service, take a fire safety course within 60 days, testify in all hearings involving the shooting and have no contact with co-defendants or witnesses.
Baldwin and the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, were both charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter over Hutchins’ death. Gun enhancement charges for both were dropped in late February.
Baldwin has pleaded not guilty to his charges and has also denied pulling the trigger. Gutierrez-Reed’s attorney has said she intends to plead not guilty and has said she has no idea how live rounds ended up in the gun.
Both are scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on May 3.
Halls’ hearing comes days after Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies announced she was stepping away from prosecuting the case and appointed Morrissey and Jason Lewis to serve as special prosecutors.