(Photo by Angela Weiss/Contributor via Getty Images)
OAN Brooke Mallory
UPDATED 2:34 PM – Wednesday, March 15, 2023
New Mexico special prosecutor in Alec Baldwin’s “Rust” case, Andrea Reeb, resigned on Tuesday saying that she wouldn’t tolerate questions about her dual positions as both prosecutor and legislator to distract from the case’s issues.
Baldwin’s lawyers filed a motion requesting to disqualify Reeb last month due to her two-fold position, and because she previously dropped a firearm sentencing enhancement that carried a five-year prison term after admitting, via email, that she incorrectly applied the law.
The New Mexico constitution explicably prohibits individuals from holding a position in one branch of government while enforcing the powers of another branch simultaneously.
Reeb is also known to be a Republican member of the State House of Representatives, which likely instilled fear in Baldwin regarding his case as an outspoken Democrat who has a history of condemning the GOP and conservative policies.
This decision is another major setback for the prosecution of actor Alec Baldwin, and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who are both accused of involuntary manslaughter in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins that happened in October of 2021.
#Breaking Special Prosecutor Andrea Reeb is stepping down from the #Rust case. In a statement from the DA’s office she says it’s the best way to ensure justice, and “I will not allow questions about my serving as a legislator and prosecutor to cloud the real issue at hand.” pic.twitter.com/zQaJIrdFLO
— Giuli Frendak (@gfrendakKOB) March 14, 2023
“After much reflection, I have made the difficult decision to step down as special prosecutor in the ‘Rust’ case… My priority in this case and in every case I’ve prosecuted in my 25-year career — has been justice for the victim,” said Andrea Reeb in a statement.
Reeb’s decision to disqualify herself comes suddenly after many weeks of aversion to the idea by both her and the First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies, who appointed Reeb in the beginning.
“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 that led to the death of Halyna Hutchins,” Reeb said.
It is not exactly clear whether District Attorney Carmack-Altwies is going to take over the case or designate a new special prosecutor. The First Judicial District Attorney’s office did not respond to a request for any further comments.
Baldwin, the lead actor and producer of “Rust,” and Gutierrez-Reed, the initial armorer for the film, are both facing two counts of involuntary manslaughter, which would equate to two 18-month prison sentences for both individuals.
David Halls, original assistant director of the film, signed a plea agreement for the charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon, forcing a suspended sentence and six months of probation.
“Rust” producers and Baldwin are also facing another civil suit that was set in motion on February 9th by Halyna Hutchins’ parents and sister.
Baldwin’s lawyers emphasized that the gun Alec used in the accidental killing of Hutchins was destroyed in the investigation process at a status hearing last week.
However, prosecutors challenged their statement by noting that the gun had only experienced some slight internal damage during the FBI investigation and that it was still generally intact.
Carmack-Altwies commissioned a spokesperson named Heather Brewer whose specific duty was to answer all media questions regarding the “Rust” film.
Brewer has been accused of making pernicious comments about Baldwin and his defense team.
She referred to them as a “celebrity with fancy lawyers,” which came off as unprofessional to some attorneys.
“Prosecutors have to walk a very fine line between what you can say publicly…You don’t want to be accused of poisoning the jury pool ahead of time. And that certainly could be an issue here,” New Mexico lawyer John Day noted.
The movie is still scheduled to continue filming in spring.