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‘Rust’ special prosecutor announces she will step down from case

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(SANTA FE, N.M.) — The special prosecutor in New Mexico who investigated the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of “Rust” announced Tuesday she is stepping down.

The decision comes weeks after Alec Baldwin’s attorney moved to disqualify the special prosecutor, Andrea Reeb, claiming in a motion filed last month that as a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives, she cannot simultaneously exercise legislative and judicial power.

Reeb said in a statement issued by New Mexico’s First Judicial District Attorney Tuesday that she will “not allow questions about my serving as a legislator and prosecutor to cloud the real issue at hand.”

“My priority in this case — and in every case I’ve prosecuted in my 25-year career — has been justice for the victim,” Reeb said in the statement. “However, it has become clear that the best way I can ensure justice is served in this case is to step down so that the prosecution can focus on the evidence and the facts, which clearly show a complete disregard for basic safety protocols led to the death of Halyna Hutchins.”

Reeb was elected to her first term in the New Mexico House of Representatives last year and assumed office on Jan. 1.

In a motion filed last month seeking to disqualify her, Baldwin defense attorney Luke Nikas wrote, “Under Section 1 of Article III of the New Mexico Constitution, however, a sitting member of the Legislature may not ‘exercise any powers properly belonging’ to either the executive or judicial branch.”

“A prosecutor who also serves as a legislator could face pressure to make prosecutorial decisions that serve her legislative interests, such as by prosecuting a prominent defendant associated with an opposing faction within the Legislature even in the face of conflicting evidence or law,” the motion stated.

The filing cited a funding request from First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies of $635,500 from the New Mexico Board of Finance for the prosecution of individuals related to the “Rust” shooting. The proposed budget included $156,000 for Reeb’s salary.

Following the filing, the district attorney’s office called the motion a distraction.

Baldwin has been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of Hutchins, who was fatally shot on the Santa Fe set of the Western on Oct. 21, 2021. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in a court filing.

In addition to Baldwin, the film’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter over her death.

First assistant director David Halls took a plea deal after being charged with negligent use of a deadly weapon in connection with the shooting. The plea agreement is pending a judge’s approval, prosecutors have said. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance in late March.

Last month, the district attorneys’ office announced it was dropping the gun enhancement charge — a crime that would have carried a five-year sentence if convicted — against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed in the fatal shooting.

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