SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Santa Fe's district attorney has appointed two veteran New Mexico lawyers to serve as the new special prosecutors in the manslaughter case against Alec Baldwin and a weapons supervisor in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer during a 2021 movie rehearsal.
The appointment of Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis to the positions will allow District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies to focus on New Mexico's “broader public safety needs,” her spokesperson Heather Brewer said in a statement Wednesday.
The original special prosecutor, Andrea Reeb, resigned earlier in the wake of missteps in the filing of initial charges against Baldwin and objections that Reeb’s role as a state legislator created conflicting responsibilities.
Carmack-Altwies subsequently had been preparing to appoint a new special prosecutor and also guide the complex case as co-counsel.
But Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer said on Monday the district attorney should either lead the case on her own or turn it over entirely to another prosecutor.
Baldwin and movie armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed have pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and fines.
Hutchins died shortly after being wounded Oct. 21, 2021, during rehearsals for the Western film “Rust” at a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe. Baldwin was pointing a pistol at Hutchins when the gun went off, killing her and wounding the director, Joel Souza.
A defense attorney for Gutierrez-Reed objected to Carmack-Altwies' earlier plans to serve as co-counsel, arguing it would be illegal under New Mexico law and fundamentally unfair to a 25-year-old defendant with limited financial resources.
Brewer said the appointment of Morrisey and Lewis, with their “extensive experience and trial expertise, will allow the state to pursue justice for Halyna Hutchins and ensure that in New Mexico everyone is held accountable under the law.”
A weekslong preliminary hearing in May will decide whether evidence against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed is sufficient to proceed to trial.