Judge: DA can’t prosecute ‘Rust’ case with new special prosecutor

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SANTA FE, N.M. – There was another snag in the prosecution of the deadly “Rust” movie set shooting. It comes after the first special prosecutor was pressured to resign in March. 

The Santa Fe County District Attorney’s Office is looking to appoint a new special prosecutor to take on the criminal case against actor Alec Baldwin and set armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. Both are facing charges related to the deadly shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

The First Judicial District Attorney’s Office blames a staff shortage for the need to hire a new special prosecutor to take on the criminal case.

“We cannot prosecute a case if we cannot find the bodies in the office to prosecute both this case and every other case in our district,” said District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies. 

Carmack-Altwies said by the end of April the office will be short nine attorneys. 

“We need extra manpower on this case so that it does not take away from prosecuting all of the other cases currently in our office,” Carmack-Altwies said. 

She wanted to hire a new special prosecutor in addition to serving as co-counsel on the case.

“In that statute, the special appointment statute, it says, and the district attorney just quoted, when a district attorney cannot prosecute – that’s the key language ‘cannot prosecute,’” said Jason Bowles, attorney for Gutierrez-Reed. 

Bowles points to state statute, saying if they need a special prosecutor then the state needs to hand the case over – and a judge agreed.

“You either use 36-1-23.1 in the way I’ve interpreted it which means you may not co-counsel, or you may stay the course and not use a special prosecutor and prosecute it on your own,” said Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer. 

The judge did suggest the district attorney’s office look into another statute to see if it would apply to the case. 

Watch the video above for more.