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'Rust' armorer to be sentenced in accidental shooting of cinematographer

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The woman in charge of weapons on the set of "Rust," Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, is due to be sentenced today for her role in the death of the film's cinematographer. She was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in March. NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports, and we should note that this story features the sound of gunfire, but it's not sound of the fatal shooting.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: The film armorer has been in custody since she was found guilty and now faces as much as 18 months in prison for the fatal accident on the set of the Western film "Rust." During a scene rehearsal, actor Alec Baldwin pointed what was supposed to be an unloaded prop gun. It fired off, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza. Since then, there have been questions over who is responsible for loading the gun with live ammunition. Last month, a New Mexico jury blamed Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. In court, special prosecutor Jason Lewis argued she'd been sloppy, negligent and reckless during the production.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JASON LEWIS: She failed to do the essential safety functions of her job, and these failures resulted in live ammunition being spread throughout this entire set.

DEL BARCO: Her attorney, Jason Bowles, argued that she was unfairly singled out for the accidental shooting.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JASON BOWLES: What you're seeing in this courtroom today is trying to blame it all on Hannah, the 24-year-old, because why? Because she's an easy target. She's the least powerful person on that set.

DEL BARCO: Bowles says he'll appeal Gutierrez-Reed's guilty decision. And to pay the legal costs, her father, Thell Reed, a longtime movie armorer, started a GoFundMe campaign, but it was shut down for violating rules against raising money to legally defend cases involving violent crimes. In July, Alec Baldwin will go on trial for his role in Hutchins' death. Prosecutors say they plan to use some of the evidence shown in court during Gutierrez-Reed's trial, including footage from Baldwin firing a gun in character during the film's production.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ALEC BALDWIN: One more, one more, one more. I forgot the recoil on this stuff (ph). No, right away, right away. Let's reload.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Here we go.

DEL BARCO: Baldwin has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and says he was not responsible for Hutchins' death. Prosecutors say, as one of the film's producers, he was. Mandalit del Barco, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF QUANTIC'S "TIME IS THE ENEMY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.