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Special Prosecutor in Alec Baldwin Rust Case Steps Down So 'Prosecution Can Focus on the Evidence'

People 3/15/2023 Melissa Montoya

Courtesy of Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office © Provided by People Courtesy of Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office

Alec Baldwin's legal team has notched another win after the special prosecutor in charge of the Rust shooting case announced she was stepping down on Tuesday.

The fatal 2021 on-set shooting killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza. Baldwin, 64, pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges in the case. Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed is also facing similar charges.

Court records show Baldwin's legal team filed a motion on Feb. 7 to disqualify Andrea Reeb, claiming her dual role as special prosecutor and a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives was "unconstitutional," according to the motion.

RELATED: Alec Baldwin Enters Not Guilty Plea in 'Rust' Shooting Case, Will No Longer Appear in Court Friday

Reeb is a former district attorney for New Mexico's Ninth Judicial District. The motion states she resigned from her post in March 2022 to campaign for the New Mexico House of Representatives and was later appointed as special prosecutor in the case. Reeb went on to win her seat as a state legislator during the November election.

A hearing was set for March 27 for Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer to hear from both sides on the motion to disqualify Reeb. But now, Reeb has unexpectedly quit.

"After much reflection, I have made the difficult decision to step down as special prosecutor in the Rust case," Reeb said in a statement sent to PEOPLE by New Mexico's First Judicial District Attorney. "My priority in this case — and in every case I've prosecuted in my 25-year career — has been justice for the victim.

"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."

RELATED: Alec Baldwin, 'Rust' Producers Sued by Three Crew Members Dealing with Anxiety, Depression, PTSD

A request for comment to Baldwin's attorney was not immediately returned to PEOPLE on Tuesday.

During a hearing on March 9, one of Baldwin's attorneys claimed the gun used in the incident had been destroyed by the state, but the state said that was not the case.

"The gun Alec Baldwin used in the shooting that killed Halyna Hutchins has not been destroyed by the state. The gun is in evidence and is available for the defense to review," New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney spokesperson Heather Brewer told PEOPLE in a statement.

In addition to criminal charges, Baldwin is facing a civil lawsuit from Hutchins' parents and sister in her death. Baldwin and the film's producers are also involved in another case, alleging negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress, filed by three crew members.

RELATED VIDEO: Alec Baldwin Sees Charge Dropped in 'Rust' Shooting, Faces Reduced Prison Sentence

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In a statement to PEOPLE on Jan. 19, another attorney for Baldwin, Luke Nikas of Quinn Emanuel, said the announcement of criminal charges against the actor "distorts Halyna Hutchins' tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice."

"Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the movie set," Nikas added. "He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds. We will fight these charges, and we will win."

Read the original article on People

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