Category: Paint me surprised by this
EXCLUSIVE, updated with lawyers statement: Less than two weeks before a mini-trial is scheduled to begin in New Mexico over the October 2021 killing of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, all charges are going to be dropped against Alec Baldwin and the film’s armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed
Recently appointed special prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis are expected to file paperwork soon, perhaps even today, to dismiss the involuntary manslaughter claims against the multi-Emmy-winning actor and the crew member without prejudice, we hear. That means, as they are set to investigate further into what actually went down that terrible day on the Bonanza Creek Ranch set near Santa Fe, this case could be resurrected in the future.
“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 attorneys Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro said in a statement. Representatives for the Santa Fe’s District Attorney’s office had no comment on the situation when contacted by Deadline on Thursday.
“The new special prosecutor team has taken a very diligent and thorough approach to the entire investigation, which we welcome and have always welcomed,” said Reed’s lawyers Jason Bowles and Todd Bulllion today. “They are seeking the truth and we are also. 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.”
Both Gutierrez-Reed and Baldwin had pleaded not guilty earlier this year.
Since an interview on ABC just weeks after the slaying of Hutchins, Baldwin repeatedly has insisted that he did not pull the trigger on the 1880s prop gun that killed the DoP — an insistence the FBI disagreed with in its report on the matter released last year. With Baldwin lawyers last month contesting the state of the gun, further investigation into the firearm looks certain to be undertaken as a part of any renewed probe.
These latest developments are occurring as production on a resurrected Rust was set to start in Montana with Baldwin and director Joel Souza, who was wounded in the October 2021 shooting. Originally scheduled to begin earlier this week, Rust 2.0 now is looking at starting tomorrow, we hear — though that could shift based on these new developments. The timing of the charges being dropped against Baldwin just before the new Rust production commences seems almost uncanny, though we are told it is purely coincidence.
The looming move by the special prosecutors also comes mere days after the filing of the witness list for the May 3-starting preliminary examination became public. Even with charges against Gutierrez-Reed still active, it looks unlikely that the preliminary examination aka mini-trial will go ahead as scheduled, especially with prosecutors digging anew into the evidence, context and circumstances of the on-set tragedy.
More than a year after Halyna Hutchins died on the Rust set, Baldwin and co-defendant Gutierrez-Reed were charged in late January with two counts of involuntary manslaughter. Along with a mandatory five-year firearm enhancement that later was cast aside as “unconstitutional,” those charges carried a maximum of 18 months behind bars and around $5,000 in fines if a jury delivered guilty verdicts to Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed. At the time, New Mexico officials made a plea deal with Rust assistant director Dave Halls, who was sentenced to six months of unsupervised probation.
In the past weeks, Baldwin had received approval from Judge Mary Marlow Sommer to be absent from the preliminary examination/mini-trial on the involuntary manslaughter claims against him. Still, in a sign of just how fast events were moving this week, the state released its 35-person witness list for the mini-trial, where Judge Sommer would determine if there is enough evidence to go to a full trial. Right near the top of that list is Rust director and co-creator Souza. The list also includes Rust script supervisor Mamie Mitchell — who is suing Baldwin and his fellow producers in one of the many suits against them still in L.A. Superior Court and New Mexico — armorer mentor Seth Kenney, more members of the crew and a ton of cops.
The sudden turn of events now for Rust star and producer Baldwin follows Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies stepping down from the case late last month and the duo of veteran New Mexico attorneys being put in charge.
While rare, that decision by the besieged DA looked almost inevitable over the past few weeks.
Almost from the jump after Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed were formally charged, the DA hit several self-created potholes, including a lost February 24 attempt to block Gutierrez-Reed’s request to possess a gun in her home for self-defense. More embarrassingly for the DA, there also was a dismissal of the firearm enhancement charge from the case in late February and the stinging loss of previous special prosecutor and GOP state lawmaker Andrea Reeb in mid-March. Then, almost certain to lose an attempt to be co-counsel with a new special prosecutor, Carmack-Altwies finally removed herself from the case altogether on March 29. At the same time, the DA brought well-respected New Mexico lawyers Morrissey and Lewis on board as special prosecutors.
As the State of New Mexico pondered bringing charges against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed, the Hutchins estate settled its wrongful death suit against Rust Movie Productions LLC and Baldwin in October. As part of the deal, the DoP’s husband Matthew Hutchins is executive producing the new Rust production, as well as a documentary on his wife’s life and burgeoning career.
“I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame (to the producers or Mr. Baldwin),” Matthew Hutchins said at the time. “All of us believe Halyna’s death was a terrible accident. I am grateful that the producers and the entertainment community have come together to pay tribute to Halyna’s final work.”
Earlier this week, that settlement was ordered sealed to protect the privacy of the Hutchins’ young son.
To any of my fantastic readers who reside there. Hey what can I say? As I am stuck in LA, so I feel your pain! Grumpy
Our friends over at San Diego County Gun Owners did him the liberty of having a gun violence restraining order filed against him, and requested that his CCW permit be revoked. Something he’d surely want done to others.
SDCGO, acting on behalf of their members, and of course on behalf of Fletcher’s ideology – that he strongly holds onto – penned a scathing letter to the law enforcement officials of Fletcher’s district checking in on the status of a GVRO being issued.
San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan
San Diego County Sheriff Kelly Martinez
San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott
San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit
Law Enforcement Leaders:
As you know, there are many current laws concerning firearms with which our organization disagrees and we continue to work to get them overturned. I believe we all agree, however, that special treatment of elected officials should never be tolerable.
Last week, a lawsuit against Supervisor Nathan Fletcher was filed, which includes accusations of sexual assault and battery, sexual harrassment, and other illegal behavior. It is not unusual for those accused of this level of illegal activity to have their concealed carry permit (CCW) revoked and a gun violence restraining order (GVRO) filed to remove all access to their firearms.
In addition to the lawsuit, Supervisor Fletcher released a statement stating that he is too mentally unstable to continue with his campaign for State Senate and that he is entering treatment for addiction.
The purpose of this letter is to ask for an update on the progress made to revoke Supervisor Fletcher’s CCW and to file a GVRO against him. He has been vocal about his support for GVROs and for heavily restricting CCW holders; especially when they are accused of violent Crimes.
I look forward to any progress update you can provide me.
Michael A. Schwartz
San Diego County Gun Owners PAC
Whoa, talk about a bombshell. Fletcher’s office did in fact announce he intended to self-admit into a rehab program on March 26, 2023.
Supervisor Nathan Fletcher will check into a treatment center this week for post traumatic stress, trauma and alcohol abuse. He has also decided to forgo a run for State Senate to focus on his health. Supervisor Fletcher has released the following statement:
“For many years, I have been suffering from devastating post traumatic stress associated with combat piled on top of intense childhood trauma that has been exacerbated by alcohol abuse. While I have shared some of these challenges publicly, they run much deeper than I have acknowledged. Outwardly, I have projected calm and composure. Internally, I have been waging a struggle that only those closest to me have seen; the detrimental impact on my relationships, mood, and inability to sleep.
“I have to seek help. With the recommendation of my therapist and the insistence of my wife, this week I will be checking into an extended inpatient treatment center for post traumatic stress, trauma and alcohol abuse. I have no doubt I will not only make a full recovery, but will come back stronger, more connected and present. However, it is clear I need to focus on my health and my family and do not have the energy to simultaneously pursue a campaign for the State Senate.
“I am grateful to the full love and unconditional support of my wife, family and friends.”
While Supervisor Fletcher will be on medical leave from the County of San Diego. Our office will continue to serve the constituents of the Fourth Supervisorial District.
Not long after that announcement, on March 28, 2023, is when case number 37-2023-00012828-CU-OE-CTL was filed with the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego. The suit named Figueroa vs Fletcher involves plaintiff Grecia Figueroa, a 34-year-old woman who immigrated from Peru. Figueroa was formerly employed by the Metropolitan Transit System in San Diego, and was fired the same day Fletcher announced a run for California State Senate. The complaint alleges that Fletcher engaged in the following behaviors:
- Defendant Fletcher Begins to Stalk Ms. Figueroa Online
- Defendant Fletcher Surfaces on Ms. Figueroa’s Social Media Account
- Defendant Fletcher Reveals that He Wants Sex from Ms. Figueroa
- Defendant Fletcher Lures Ms. Figueroa to His Hotel
- Defendant Fletcher Sexually Assaults Ms. Figueroa on Multiple Occasions
- Ms. Figueroa Is Abruptly Terminated from MTS on the Same Day Fletcher Announces His Run for California State Senate
- Defendant Fletcher Tries to Silence Ms. Figueroa by Threatening to Destroy Her Reputation and Sue Her for Extortion if She Vindicates Her Rights
That’s a filet of what the complaint alleges Fletcher engaged in. The complaint further stated – and this is a graphic depiction of a sexual assault, so be forewarned – among many of the sexual assaults that Fletcher allegedly engaged in, one particular situation that allegedly occurred is very alarming:
On December 1, 2022, during an MTS Executive Committee meeting, Fletcher messaged Ms. Figueroa from his phone while he was conducting the meeting. In the message, Fletcher asked Ms. Figueroa to “come say hi” and to meet him in the adjacent conference room after the event.
When Ms. Figueroa arrived at the room, Fletcher asked her to close the door and then sexually assaulted her a second time – this time grabbing her breasts underneath her blouse, pulling off some of her clothes, exposing her breasts, and putting his mouth on her nipple, while forcefully shoving his hand back and forth over her vaginal area.
Ms. Figueroa was shocked, scared, and humiliated – not only from being sexually objectified, but from the reality that this was happening in an MTS conference room, immediately adjacent to the MTS Boardroom where a committee meeting had just concluded. This was simply not something Ms. Figueroa was comfortable doing. She (again) pushed Fletcher back, told him she was too nervous, and insisted that he stop or she would leave, at which point Fletcher allowed her to put her clothes back together.
Two days after the complaint was filed, Fletcher announced on Twitter his intention to step down from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors:
The strain on my wife and family over this past week has been immense and unbearable. A combination of my personal mistakes plus false accusations has created a burden that my family shouldn’t have to bear. I will be resigning from the Board of Supervisors, effective at the end of my medical leave…
Would Fletcher qualify for a GVRO? Considering the complaint also includes allegations of threats against Figueroa, “These discussions were short-lived, however, because Fletcher soon resorted to threats of bullying, intimidation, and defamatory legal action against Ms. Figueroa if she ever brought her story to light,” Fletcher certainly could fit the bill of someone that should have a GVRO executed upon…in addition to the many allegations of violent sexual assaults and alleged stalker-like behavior.
The requirements, per California Code, Penal Code – PEN § 18175, to be fulfilled for a GVRO, a petitioner must prove the following:
(1) The subject of the petition, or a person subject to a temporary emergency gun violence restraining order or an ex parte gun violence restraining order, as applicable, poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to themselves or another by having in the subject’s or person’s custody or control, owning, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm, ammunition, or magazine.
(2) A gun violence restraining order is necessary to prevent personal injury to the subject of the petition, or the person subject to an ex parte gun violence restraining order, as applicable, or another because less restrictive alternatives either have been tried and found to be ineffective, or are inadequate or inappropriate for the circumstances of the subject of the petition, or the person subject to an ex parte gun violence restraining order, as applicable.
The letter sent by Michael A. Schwartz, San Diego County Gun Owners PAC’s Political Director, does hit the high notes on Fletcher’s eligibility for having his permit to carry revoked, as well as having his firearms removed from his possession. Fletcher, being accused by someone that alleges they would be retaliated against if they spoke out, paired with his own self-described instability, could be considered a danger to the alleged victim and himself. Further, one of the requirements in order to get a California permit to carry, as illustrated on the San Diego County Sheriff’s webpage for permitting, is that “The applicant is of good moral character.”
Granted, all that we’re talking about concerning Fletcher are allegations, with no due process rendered yet. Unfortunately for him, that’s all that’s required for him to be red-flagged. We can assume that Fletcher has been a proponent of subjective criteria like “good moral character,” something that’s forbidden according to the NYSRPA v. Bruen decision, as well as Heller. But, this is the law and situation in California, and Fletcher, having shown his support for subverting the rights of San Diego County residents, must be held to the same exact standards of the rest of the peasants. What’s in the complaint – allegedly – does not make Fletcher, what a reasonable man would consider, to be of “good moral character.”
In the past, Fletcher has championed many different restrictions on the Second Amendment. Reading his statements, one can gather that he’s been fully indoctrinated in how to use the weasel words of gun-grabbers.
Fletcher was in support of banning so-called “ghost guns” in the county and forcing storage rules, and noted in 2022:
“Enacting stronger safety measures for gun storage and reducing the possibility for more unregulated firearms to be distributed in our neighborhoods is another important step toward fulfilling our obligation to help protect San Diegans from unnecessary gun violence,” said Chair Fletcher. “I want to thank Councilmember Marni von Wilpert who authored and passed “ghost gun” legislation in the city; and City Attorney Mara Elliott for her trailblazing “safe storage” policy, for inspiring the ordinance we passed today.”
Also in 2022, Fletcher specifically spoke about storage mandates imposed on the residents of San Diego:
“Safe firearm storage saves lives and prevents gun violence,” said Nathan Fletcher, Chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “Last year we introduced the measure. Earlier this year the rules were finalized, and now we’re delivering on our promise. The common-sense, safe storage guidelines that go into effect in our unincorporated areas will keep families safe, especially children.”
Fletcher spoke about his support in voting to be able to sue gun manufacturers, something that goes against the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act:
“We have added another tool to our fight against gun violence in San Diego County,” said Chair Fletcher. “Today we have put our County in a position to take action against multimillion-dollar companies that profit off of people buying deadly weapons, but historically have never had the responsibility of making sure the wrong people don’t purchase them. Our efforts today will help to create greater accountability.”
Nathan Fletcher is no friend to civil liberties. Cherry-picking examples of his disdain of the Second Amendment can go on and on. Given the very serious allegations that have surfaced against him, he probably should be divested of his right to keep and bear arms – according to laws and ideologies he supports. Naturally, and confidently speaking for Bearing Arms, we here believe in the right of due process. There are major issues with laws that Fletcher supports. But, he does support them and should have to live under the same exact standards of everyone else.
Where does this put the citizens of San Diego, or California at large? Nowhere. That’s where. Fletcher, a gun-grabbing political hack, is playing the victim and snuck away to rehab. Whether or not Fletcher has a substance abuse problem is really of no consequence. Fletcher will have to one day face his accuser, and will or won’t be held accountable. According to the allegations, it does appear a criminal case should also be opened. Will that happen? Who knows.
What is likely to happen to a hypocrite like Fletcher is that he’ll come out the other end of this one day and be back in politics in no time. We’re talking about California of course. All he’d have to do is relocate to San Francisco, and he’d be good to go. Let’s hope I’m wrong about that. At a minimum, Fletcher deserves a spoon full of his own medicine and the San Diego County Sheriff’s office, et.al. should act on revoking Fletcher’s carry permit, as well as confiscate his guns. Then we’ll see if some animals are more equal than others.
Nathan Fletcher, wishing you well as you navigate your road to recovery. Disgraced. And hopefully disarmed.
Tune into Schwartz discussing the situation HERE, or in the embed below:
The Washington Post’s Editorial Board Are Pieces of Elitist Shit For Their Proposed Elimination of Veteran Rights by Chaps
America must keep faith with its military veterans. We owe the greatest debt to those who risked their lives to keep us free.
But the promises America has made to the women and men who have served in uniform are due for a review. The budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs has grown at a dramatic pace since 9/11 — from roughly $45 billion in 2001 to more than $300 billion this year.
None of these steps would be politically easy. Proposing and voting for new benefits for veterans have long been among the few policy areas that both Democrats and Republicans support. We also know that the array of benefits offered by the VA plays an important role in attracting and retaining the all-volunteer force — especially in an era of low unemployment and rising wages in the civilian sector.
But the moral responsibility Americans have to those who fought for the country is of diminished value if it does not align with the fiscal responsibility Americans have to keep their financial house safe and sound.
I haven’t been enraged reading a news article in a long, long time. Why am I enraged? Because of these Ivy League, snot-nosed fucks at the Washington Post.
It is laughable that the employees of one of the richest individuals in the world have the audacity to suggest disabled veterans should be the persons responsible for balancing the federal budget – instead of their wealthy billionaire benefactors who notoriously skirt their tax liabilities.
You would think with all the collective Ivy League degrees held by The Washington Post Editorial Board they would understand basic economics. Instead, they recommend that veterans be subjected to means tests or outright forfeit their earned benefits if they manage to constructively cope with these life-altering disabilities.
If you don’t remember, the PACT Act was established to secure health care and entitlements for thousands of veterans who are being diagnosed with various cancers, lung diseases, and much much more. Health care was also improved for dozens of other causes and ailments.
We have been making great strides in helping or honoring those who served in the longest fucking war in American history. We went to a place where we could have been blown up at any moment. We went to a place where we had to watch someone point a gun at us before we were allowed to return fire. We fought in places where we had to put our battle buddies on choppers in body bags and watch them head back home to their families without breath or a heartbeat.
Vast numbers of us have terrible back problems, difficulty breathing at times, PTSD, Traumatic brain injuries, and on and on and on. These are things that we did for our country and we only ask for what was promised which is payment for the sacrifices to our bodies and minds that no reasonable government or dumb-ass editorial board could ever imagine stripping away with a means test.
Just like the VA’s motto until a few weeks ago, the terminology is what is outdated, not the benefits. Over the years, entitlement has become a bad word that implies laziness or the wanton use of funds by the government. The VA is the opposite of that. The VA provides entitlements based on the injuries you sustained while serving. Those injuries do not go away simply because you got a job. Veterans are entitled to these payments in the purest sense of the word.
Those injuries do not go away simply because the fiscal state of the United States is in dire shape. The injuries remain and will remain for the rest of our natural lives. Injuries like the aforementioned are something those entitled- the bad version now- people who have cushy jobs writing nonsense about some of the hardest working people in this country.
People that while they were typing or doing some kind of financial news stories, we were in sands above 100 degrees for months at time with packs that weighed over 60lbs on the regular. People who while the WP Board was polishing their Pultizers were calling family members on satellite phones from the rooftop where another person was standing watch with a machine gun ready to protect you while you talked to your kids.
People that had no problem walking near and over IEDs so that we could locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver while you were at the latest James Beard award-winning restaurant. While they were in their posh environments, many of us were marching to the sounds of the guns.
The injuries sustained by veterans and active duty members should be one of the last wells that we fill our buckets with simply because the well is closer and easier to draw water from. Walk to the next village over and look in that well of governmental waste. While I type this blog, my hands shake. My hands aren’t shaking because I am mad, which I am, my hands shake because I sustained an injury to my fucking brain when I was blown up by an IED. Does that change because I have a good job? No.
Does the veteran with PTSD lose it when she works in an accounting job now? No.
While I dont think this type of idea has or ever will get any legs, it’s beyond insulting when a huge newspaper like the Washington Post writes an opinion piece that can mislead and manipulate readers with a lesser understanding of the inner workings of both the VA and the veteran service organizations.
There are plenty of ways to improve the VA, the costs associated with the care of veterans, and the budget without ripping away the entitlements veterans are owed.
It is not only insulting but it also is completely untenable. Homes would go into foreclosure, cars would be repossessed, and families would struggle even more to put food on the table, a concern I’d imagine those Harvard, Yale, and Cornell graduates have never felt in their entire fucking lives.
The ones that I met in the Service were some mighty tough troops. That & they would always be welcome in my firing line! Grumpy
Cochise County courthouse
A special agent with the U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has decided to enter a plea deal in a Cochise County court to resolve an allegation he engaged in nonconsensual sexual contact with a bartender while off-duty at a Bisbee hotel in 2020.
But first, Joseph T. Davis wants most of the case documents sealed from the public, purportedly due to potential career and safety issues.
On March 14, an attorney for Davis asked Judge Joel Larson to remove the grand jury indictment as well as any plea agreement and sentencing records from public access. The motion is opposed by the prosecutor, who argues Davis appears to be using his federal agent status to seek special treatment.
The prosecutor, Deputy County Attorney Terisha Driggs, told Larson she spoke with a senior ATF agent before responding to the motion to seal. Driggs suggests Davis is exaggerating work-related safety concerns, and pointed the judge to a 2022 press release issued by the U.S. Department of Justice about Davis’s prosecution.
The DOJ announcement even included the city and state of where Davis worked for the ATF, Driggs noted.
“The Defendant’s actions caused his identity to be brought into the public domain,” Driggs wrote. “He is now attempting to limit the public’s access to his criminal record and prevent any further media reporting.”
The criminal case against Davis stems from a social trip he and three friends made to Cochise County on Dec. 4, 2020. A 911 call around 8 p.m. from the Copper Queen Hotel in Bisbee reported “an extremely intoxicated” Davis allegedly put his hands under the bartender’s skirt and touched her in a sexual manner.
The four men were gone by the time local officers arrived. It then took until May 2021 for an investigator to be assigned, with Davis eventually indicted on one count of felony sexual abuse.
Davis, who does not live in Arizona, is on administrative assignment while the criminal matter is adjudicated. Court records show he plans to enter a guilty plea with the agreement of the victim to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct, a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Once the case is resolved, Davis anticipates being reinstated to his regular job. Tucson-based attorney Bobbi Berry filed the motion to seal with Larson in advance of a change of plea hearing. The motion argues Davis has an overriding interest in limiting public access to several records due to his job and to protect his family.
“His career position includes undercover work and exposure to investigations, arrests and individuals involved in extremely violent global operations,” Berry argues. “He will also be potentially testifying in criminal matters related to those investigations.”
Berry further contends the public’s long-held right of access to court records in Arizona is “minimal” compared to Davis’s interests.
“He hopes that by sealing his records he can avoid any other media reporting of his case and his conviction,” the motion notes, adding that any exposure “creates a profound risk to his safety and ability to function in his career.”
It appears Davis’s superiors at ATF may not share his concerns.
Driggs noted in her objection to the motion that senior ATF agents she spoke with said Davis was previously involved in only very limited undercover work. They do not expect him to do any future undercover work.
In addition, Driggs noted she was told by ATF officials that Davis “has no outstanding trials or cases in which he is expected to testify.”
Arizona law makes most adult criminal case records publicly available for inspection. Driggs argued that the public “has a significant interest in knowing when public servants break the law, regardless of the level of the offense” and that Davis “should not receive special treatment” based on the fact he is a law enforcement officer.
Davis’s attorney has until early April to file a reply to the arguments made by Driggs. Larson can then rule on the motion based on the various filings or or he can set the matter for oral arguments.
Another federal agent is awaiting trial in connection with the same Bisbee incident.
James Christopher McFeely is a Special Agent with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service based in Arizona. He was indicted in February 2022 on charges of felony witness tampering and obstructing a criminal investigation for actions he allegedly engaged in after learning of Davis’s conduct at the hotel.