New Mexico's First Judicial District Attorney, Mary Carmack-Altwies, appointed two new prosecutors to serve on the case Wednesday.
A new addition has been made to the prosecutorial team in the Rust shooting case. On Wednesday, the office of New Mexico's First Judicial District Attorney, Mary Carmack-Altwies -- who was prosecuting Alec Baldwin -- appointed long-time New Mexico attorneys Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis to serve as special prosecutors in the case.
Per a statement from Carmack-Altwies' spokesperson, Heather Brewer, "Morrissey's and Lewis' extensive experience and trial expertise will allow the state to pursue justice for Halyna Hutchins and ensure that in New Mexico everyone is held accountable under the law."
Appointing the new special prosecutors will allow Carmack-Altwies to step aside from personally prosecuting the Rust cast and allow her to "focus on the broader public safety needs in New Mexico's First Judicial District."
"Carmack-Altwies will continue her record of prosecuting drunken drivers, collaborating with local law enforcement, increasing diversion efforts and securing convictions against the most dangerous and prolific offenders," the statement continued.
The state's First Judicial District Attorney explained her decision further in a statement of her own, in which she said her responsibility to the people of New Mexico extends beyond just this one case.
"My responsibility to the people of the First Judicial District is greater than any one case, which is why I have chosen to appoint a special prosecutor in the Rust case," she explained. "Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis will unflinchingly pursue justice in the death of Halyna Hutchins on behalf of the people of First Judicial District."
Carmack-Altwies' decision to step aside and appoint two new special prosecutors to the case comes just days after Andrea Reeb voluntarily stepped down as special prosecutor -- a decision that came more than a month after Baldwin filed documents asking the court to remove Reeb from the case.
Carmack-Altwies' office released a statement on Reeb's behalf last week, announcing the news.
"After much reflection, I have made the difficult decision to step down as special prosecutor in the Rust case," Reeb's statement explained.
"My priority in this case -- and in every case I’ve prosecuted in my 25-year career -- has been justice for the victim," she continued. "However, 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 led to the death of Halyna Hutchins."
"I will not allow questions about my serving as a legislator and prosecutor to cloud the real issue at hand," the statement concluded.
In February, Baldwin's legal team filed a motion seeking to have Reeb removed as special prosecutor. According to the argument, the objection is due to the fact that Reeb is a current member of the New Mexico House of Representatives.
Baldwin’s lawyers argue that Reeb, a Republican representative, cannot hold the title of a state lawmaker and that of the special prosecutor, because the state constitution’s separation of powers provision prohibits her from serving as a prosecutor and as a state lawmaker.
"Doing so vests two core powers of different branches -- legislating and prosecuting -- in the same person," the motion argues, "and is thus barred by the plain language of Article III of the New Mexico Constitution."
The motion further argues that, should this arrangement be allowed, "Future District Attorneys could seek to curry favor with legislators who control their budgets by appointing them to high-profile cases" and this would lead to "distorting the legislative process."
Reeb was first brought onto the case last year by the First Judicial District Attorney in Santa Fe, Mary Carmack-Altwies. She was then elected to the state House of Representatives in November.
Baldwin formally entered a not-guilty plea to one count of involuntary manslaughter for his role in the fatal shooting on the set of Rust back in October 2021. Like Baldwin, Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was also charged with involuntary manslaughter.
Under New Mexico law, involuntary manslaughter is a fourth-degree felony and is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Baldwin has maintained time and again that he did not pull the trigger on the weapon he used during rehearsal that would ultimately fire a live bullet, killing Hutchins and injuring the film's director, Joel Souza.