Alec Baldwin's manslaughter trial begins

Handed a prop gun he didn't know was loaded, actor Alec Baldwin shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins dead on the set of Rust, a forthcoming western movie long-delayed by the mishap. The film's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, was convicted earlier this year of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to 18 months in prison, and now Baldwin is on trial on the same charge. Jurors must decide if his cavalier behavior amounted to the same crime.

"I take the gun and I start to cock the gun," Baldwin explained on TV. "I let go of the hammer of the gun and the gun goes off…I didn't pull the trigger."

That interview and other statements he made to the press and to police may be part of the evidence presented during his trial. New Mexico special prosecutor Kari Morrissey says she intends to prove his criminal culpability.

"Mr. Baldwin knew he had a real gun in his hand. Mr. Baldwin specifically asked for the biggest gun that was available. Mr. Baldwin knew and understood that dummy rounds look identical to live ammunition," Morrissey told the judge in a pretrial hearing two weeks ago. Morrissey said Baldwin didn't pay attention during a safety training on set. "Halyna Hutchins is dead," she said, "because he didn't participate in the safety check."

Jurors were selected yesterday and the trial is expected to take weeks. Prosecutors originally dropped the case against Baldwin after "a series of missteps", but he couldn't help constantly talking about it and making excuses, ultimately giving prosecutors enough to go after him again.

Before the grand jury was convened, a New Mexico judge ruled that the movie's production entity must turn over records that could indicate whether Baldwin shirked industrywide set-safety norms to shoot the film on a shoestring budget. Prosecutors are seeking documents between Rust Movie Productions and the actor, as well as his production company El Dorado Pictures. They are investigating the possibility that Baldwin stood to profit if he cut corners on set safety related to the use of guns.

Alec Baldwin settles lawsuit over Halyna Hutchins' on-set death
Alec Baldwin is charged — again — with involuntary manslaughter
Alec Baldwin on Rust killing: 'The trigger wasn't pulled. I didn't pull the trigger.'