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Jurors seated in Alec Baldwin’s manslaughter trial

Baldwin arrives at court in Santa Fe

Source: X/Alex Caprariello

Sixteen jurors have been seated for Alec Baldwin’s involuntary manslaughter trial in New Mexico.

Five men and 11 women were chosen on Tuesday (local time) by Santa Fe County special prosecutors and the actor’s team of defence lawyers.

Twelve will be designated as the jury and four as alternates by the court, only after they hear the case.

They will have to decide if Baldwin committed the felony when, during a rehearsal in October 2021, a revolver went off while he was pointing it at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza.

They were on the set of the Western film Rust, at Bonanza Creek Ranch some 30 kilometres from where the trial is being held.

Opening statements will begin on Wednesday.

Media was barred from the courtroom while lawyers used their challenges to strike jurors. Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer swore in the jury, told them to avoid news about the case and to report back early on Wednesday.

Baldwin, 66, could get up to 18 months in prison if the jurors unanimously find him guilty.

The selection got off to a slow start on Tuesday with a delay of more than two hours due to technical problems, but the panel was selected in a single day as expected.

When Marlowe Sommer asked the pool of 70 possible jurors if they were familiar with the case, all but two raised their hands to indicate they were.

Two others indicated they would not be able to be fair and impartial and were excused.

Baldwin, the star of 30 Rock and The Hunt for Red October and a major Hollywood figure for 35 years, sat in the courtroom with a team of four of his lawyers, dressed in a grey suit, dark tie, white shirt with glasses and neatly combed hair.

His wife, Hilaria Baldwin, and his brother, actor Stephen Baldwin, were seated in the back of the courtroom.

Under questioning from prosecutor Kari Morrissey, a potential juror said she hated firearms, but many others acknowledged owning them and few people expressed strong opinions about guns.

Several jurors said they always treated a gun as if it were loaded. One man said he was taught to respect and treat guns the same way, but also deferred to an instructor during instruction he got for a concealed carry permit.

Spiro also asked whether jurors were comfortable questioning the judgment of law enforcement officials, even those testifying under oath.

He asked whether any knew potential witnesses, and several said they knew Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza, who is on the prosecution’s witness list.

Getting chosen to serve in a trial of such a major star accused of such a major crime would be unusual even in Los Angeles or Baldwin’s hometown of New York. But it will be essentially an unheard-of experience for those who are picked as jurors in Santa Fe, New Mexico, though in recent years the state has increasingly become a hub of Hollywood production.

Baldwin and his wife arrived at the courthouse early with their youngest child, Ilaria Catalina Irena Baldwin. The couple have seven children, ranging in ages from one to 10.

Baldwin has said the gun fired accidentally after he followed instructions to point it toward Hutchins, who was behind the camera. Unaware that the gun contained a live round, Baldwin said he pulled back the hammer – not the trigger – and it fired.

Hutchins, 42, was considered a rising star in film photography when she was killed. She was the mother of a young son who grew up on a remote Soviet military base and worked on documentary films in Eastern Europe before studying film in Los Angeles and embarking on a movie-making career.

– AAP

Topics: Alec Baldwin
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