Alec Baldwin’s Lawyers Argue Destruction of Gun Warrants Dismissal

Alec Baldwin
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Alec Baldwin‘s lawyers argued on Monday that his manslaughter case should be thrown out because investigators destroyed the key piece of evidence: his Colt .45 revolver.

Baldwin is due to face a trial in two weeks in Santa Fe, N.M., on the charge that he negligently shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in October 2021.

Baldwin has denied pulling the trigger, and the defense has suggested the gun had been modified so it could go off more easily. During testing in 2022, an FBI examiner struck the gun with a mallet, breaking the internal components such that the hammer would no longer stay in the fully cocked position.

Baldwin’s lawyer, John Bash, argued that the testing deprived the defense of a full opportunity to examine the gun in its original condition, noting that the examiner did not even disassemble the gun prior to the destructive testing or photograph its internal components.

“This is among the most egregious constellation of facts I’ve ever seen,” said Bash, a former U.S. Attorney during the Trump administration. “They knew it would be destroyed, and they did nothing to preserve the evidence for the defendant.”

Prosecutor Erlinda Johnson countered that it was not clear to detectives that the Colt .45 could have exculpatory value when they ordered the testing, and that the defense can still make its case using other available evidence.

At the end of the three-hour hearing, Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer said she would issue her ruling on Friday. She did not say how she would rule, but told the parties to assume the case will go forward.

“Do not think that that means stop working for trial,” she said.

The trial is expected to take eight court days, with testimony beginning on July 10 and concluding on July 19. Kari Morrissey, the lead prosecutor, suggested that the trial could run an additional week, given the lengthy witness lists, but Marlowe Sommer insisted on limiting it to eight days.

If convicted of the felony charge, Baldwin faces up to 18 months in prison.

Marlowe Sommer rejected two earlier motions for dismissal.

The defense filed its fourth motion to throw out the case last week on the grounds that the state failed to turn over evidence to the defense in a timely manner.

In particular, the defense argues that Morrissey failed to provide a report from the state’s gun expert that showed unexplained toolmarks on the trigger sear, suggesting the gun might have been damaged prior to the FBI testing. The defense considers that exculpatory.

The expert, Lucien Haag, testified at length on Friday and Monday about his reports, saying that he has since come to the conclusion that the damage was likely due to the testing.

The defense has said that Morrissey also delayed turning over recorded interviews with witnesses until recently, among other alleged discovery violations.

Marlowe Sommer rejected the motion on Friday because it was too long, at 32 pages. The defense responded on Monday by breaking up the original motion into two, both of which complied with the court’s 10-page limit.