Alec Baldwin trial day 2: Defense accuses investigators of rush to focus on Baldwin

ByMeredith Deliso ABCNews logo
Thursday, July 11, 2024 9:21PM
Alec Baldwin 'Rust' trial day 2 focuses on gun and ammunition
Prosecutors argued Alec Baldwin behaved recklessly, while the defense says actor "committed no crime" in the deadly 2021 movie set shooting.

Alec Baldwin's attorney grilled a state's witness on the investigation into the deadly shooting on the set of "Rust" during the second day of the actor's manslaughter trial.

Baldwin was practicing a cross-draw in a church on the Santa Fe set of the Western in October 2021 when the Colt .45 revolver fired a live round, fatally striking 42-year-old cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

Baldwin was indicted by a grand jury on involuntary manslaughter in connection with Hutchins' death earlier this year after prosecutors previously dropped the charge. He pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors argued Alec Baldwin behaved recklessly, while the defense says actor committed no crime in the deadly 2021 movie set shooting.

During cross-examination on Thursday, defense attorney Alex Spiro questioned a crime scene technician on how thorough the probe was into the source of the live bullet, including the search of PDQ Arm & Prop in Albuquerque, which provided the set with firearms and ammunition.

Questioned on how extensively the investigators searched the business, technician Marissa Poppell, who collected evidence in the case, said the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office team "reasonably searched" the warehouse.

When asked if the team collected surveillance footage, which was listed on the search warrant, Poppell said she didn't recall looking for it.

"Isn't the truth that you were just trying to get this over with so that the prosecutors could focus on Alec Baldwin?" Spiro asked.

Poppell responded, "No."

Alec Baldwin sits in court during his trial in Santa Fe, N.M., Thursday, July 11, 2024.
Alec Baldwin sits in court during his trial in Santa Fe, N.M., Thursday, July 11, 2024.
Ramsay de Give/Pool Photo via AP

Spiro also asked Poppell about damage to the revolver involved in the shooting that occurred during the FBI's firearms testing.

"At the time that this testing was ordered, you knew that the firearm would no longer be in the same physical condition you recovered it in. Correct?"

"Yes," Poppell said.

Spiro said during opening statements that Baldwin wasn't given the chance to have the gun tested in its original condition, preventing him from being able to "show his truth."

Baldwin has maintained he did not pull the trigger of the firearm, though the FBI's forensic report determined the gun could not have been fired without pulling the trigger.

During opening statements on Wednesday, prosecutors argued Baldwin behaved recklessly and "violated the cardinal rules of firearm safety" during the filming of "Rust." The defense, meanwhile, said the actor "committed no crime" in the "unspeakable tragedy" and the "most critical issue" in the case is how the live bullet got on set.

Poppell testified Thursday that there is no evidence Baldwin brought a live round onto the set or loaded the live round into the gun.

During redirect, prosecutor Kari Morrissey had Poppell confirm that Baldwin has not been charged with involuntary manslaughter for bringing live rounds on the movie set or for loading a live round into the gun.

"Has a person already been tried and convicted for those things?" she said.

"Yes," Poppell said, referring to the film's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez.

Gutierrez was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in March. Prosecutors argued she repeatedly failed to maintain proper firearm safety and brought several live rounds onto the set -- including the one that killed Hutchins.

Her attorney told ABC News on Tuesday that they have been informed she will be called to testify on Friday and plans to invoke the Fifth Amendment.

Before the jury returned from lunch on Thursday, the attorneys argued over admitting redactions to Baldwin's interview with a detective following the shooting that the state said spoke to his state of mind.

Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer denied some portions of the transcript from being admitted but did allow in a part where Baldwin talked with his wife and another person about a planned family trip to New Mexico. Morrissey said Baldwin was looking to convince his wife to still come "because they can't get their money back for the plane tickets and they'd like to go ahead and have a good time."

Baldwin left the courtroom at one point as Morrissey read a part of his interview that she said spoke to his "motivation to lie about pulling the trigger."

"'I'm 63 years old with six kids. I can't rely on luck anymore,'" Morrissey quoted Baldwin as saying. "He's talking about his career, and that he can't rely on luck anymore. This goes exactly to his motivation not to tell the truth."

Marlowe Sommer said she didn't think the information was that helpful but said, "I'm going to let it in because of the lateness of your redactions."