(NEWSnet/AP) — Nearly three years after cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was shot and killed on the New Mexico set of the film “Rust,” Alec Baldwin’s trial over her death is set to begin Tuesday.

The actor appeared in a Santa Fe court for the first time on Monday during pre-trial motions. 

Baldwin's team scored a victory when a judge ruled that his role as a co-producer of the film isn’t relevant, only his status as the lead actor. His producer job has been important to prosecutors’ arguments that he contributed to the circumstances that allowed the shooting.

Here's what you need to know about the trial.

What charge does Alec Baldwin face?

The actor is charged with felony involuntary manslaughter. If a jury unanimously convicts him, he could get 18 months in prison.

about to enter a New Mexico courtroom for the first time since the Oct. 21, 2021 shooting. 

Baldwin, the star and co-producer of the Western, was pointing a revolver at Hutchins during a rehearsal in a small church on the movie set when the gun went off, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza.

Baldwin has said he pulled back the hammer — but not the trigger — and the gun fired.

It has never been officially determined who brought the live rounds that killed Hutchins on to the set. Prosecutors at the previous trial of “Rust” armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed alleged that she was responsible. She was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to the same 18 months in prison Baldwin faces.

What jurors must decide

Prosecutors have two alternative standards for proving the charge. One is based on the negligent use of a firearm. The other is proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Baldwin acted with total disregard or indifference for the safety of others.

The 12 citizens of Santa Fe County that will make up the jury will have to reach just one verdict — guilty or not guilty — on a single count.

How long is the Alec Baldwin trial expected to last?

The trial at the First Judicial District Court of New Mexico is projected to last nine days, and Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer insists that she’ll keep the lawyers in line and on schedule.

Jury selection begins Tuesday, with opening statements expected Wednesday, and the projected end the following Friday. Once the jurors get the case, however, they can deliberate as long as needed.

Alec Baldwin’s defense

Baldwin will bring with him an elite legal team of mostly New York-based attorneys from the firm of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.

The defense will try to show that it is not the job of an actor to make sure real rounds are not in his gun, a position strongly supported by Baldwin’s union, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

His lawyers will also attack the gun evidence, and the serious damage done to the revolver during an FBI test they say amounted to the destruction of evidence and left the defense no chance to examine it.

Firearms experts for the prosecution who testified at the Gutierrez-Reed trial are returning to the witness stand, over objections by Baldwin, to testify about his handling of the revolver and whether the gun was functioning properly.

The prosecution team

Santa Fe County District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies appointed Kari Morrissey as a special prosecutor in the Baldwin case in early 2023 after her predecessor stepped down because of conflicts of interest. Morrissey promptly had the indictment against Baldwin dismissed, but revived it in January of this year by grand jury. Both moves came from further examination of the evidence, she said.

The prosecutors will try to convince jurors that as a producer and the most important person on the set, Baldwin brought a recklessness to the production, and that as an actor he was negligent in handling his gun.

Who’s expected to testify at the Alec Baldwin trial

The crew members inside the small church building who became eye-witnesses to Hutchins’ killing will provide the trial’s most essential testimony. They include director Joel Souza, who was himself shot and wounded by the bullet from Baldwin’s gun, and assistant director David Halls, the film’s assistant director, who some said was responsible for the shooting but pleaded no contest to negligent handling of a firearm.

Zac Sneesby, a crew member who was holding a boom microphone during the rehearsal, will testify that he saw Baldwin pull the trigger of the revolver, prosecutors said in court filings.

Prosecutors also may call Gutierrez-Reed to the stand, but Marlowe Sommer rejected an immunity deal they wanted to give her.

Jurors will hear testimony from firearms experts who allege the revolver was working properly could not have fired without pulling the trigger.

And Baldwin himself can take the stand in his defense, but he doesn’t have to. His attorneys have not said which he will do.

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