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'Rattled with guilt,' assistant director David Halls convicted for role in 'Rust' shooting

Meg James, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

"Rust" assistant director David Halls was convicted Friday of one count of negligent use of a deadly weapon for his role in the accidental shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the low-budget western.

With Halls' plea, New Mexico prosecutors have secured one conviction in the criminal cases stemming from Alec Baldwin's Oct. 21, 2021, shooting of Hutchins on the movie set near Santa Fe, N.M. The film's director, Joel Souza, was wounded.

Friday's virtual court hearing also marked the first appearance by the new special prosecutor. Kari T. Morrissey, an Albuquerque litigator who stepped into the sprawling criminal proceedings on Wednesday, replaced 1st Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies. In late January, Carmack-Altwies brought criminal charges against Halls, Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed. The latter two have been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, and have entered not-guilty pleas.

Soon after the fatal shooting, Halls' Albuquerque-based attorney, Lisa Torraco, began negotiations with prosecutors in hopes of a light sentence for her client. Torraco has maintained that, despite Halls' role as on-set safety coordinator, he was not responsible for the actions of others.

During Friday's hearing, Torraco told the judge that Halls is still haunted by the shooting. He was standing just 3 feet from Hutchins and Souza when they were shot.

"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?'" Torraco told the judge.


Halls, who appeared in a video link, told Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer that he agreed to plead no contest to the misdemeanor charge.

The film industry veteran received a suspended six-month sentence of unsupervised probation.

Halls also agreed to pay a $500 fine, participate in a firearms safety class, refrain from taking drugs or alcohol and complete 24 hours of community service. If he fails to complete the sentence, prosecutors can resume the criminal case against him, Sommer said.


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