One and a half years after the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the low-budget Western Rust, the first conviction has been handed down in the criminal investigations into the incident. Specifically, Variety reports that David Halls, 1st assistant director on the film, has formalized a plea deal to a misdemeanor charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon. Halls will do no jail time, instead receiving a six month sentence of unsupervised probation, a $500 fine, 24 hours of community service, and a requirement to take a gun safety class.
Of the various Rust personnel currently facing legal action—notably armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who loaded the firearm that killed Hutchins, and star Alec Baldwin, who was holding it when it discharged—Halls is the only one to have taken a plea deal, saying that he did so to “make things easier for the family.” Even so, his attorney pushed back on certain assertions about the case, including allegations that he was the one who handed the gun to Baldwin, and that he declared it a “cold gun”—i.e., one containing no blank rounds—while doing so. Gutierrez-Reed has said she handed the gun to Halls, while Baldwin said the assistant director handed it to him and made the “cold gun” statement.
The prosecutor in the case, Kari Morrissey, read a statement as the trial was wrapping up, laying out Halls’ culpability (citing a statement Halls made to police early into the investigation about failing to check each round in the gun): “He is the last line of defense. He needed to check and confirm that the rounds in the gun were actually dummy rounds. Mr. Halls did not check every round in the gun to confirm that it was a dummy round.”
Gutierrez-Reed and Baldwin are both facing a maximum of 18 months in jail on charges of involuntary manslaughter. Morrissey and Jason Lewis have just been appointed as special prosecutors in the case, after multiple prosecutors have already stepped down from the case amidst complaints from Baldwin’s legal team. Halls is expected to testify in a preliminary hearing ahead of the trials.