New Mexicans criticize Alec Baldwin as manslaughter trial begins

SANTA FE, N.M. — Santa Fe is used to tourists. But not like this.

Alec Baldwin came to town this week for the start of his involuntary manslaughter trial, and he was not exactly greeted warmly by New Mexican residents.

A small crowd of local spectators packed the courthouse as attorneys delivered their opening statements. Baldwin, 66, is accused of firing a live gun that was accidentally loaded with a live round on the set of the western “Rust” — killing camerawoman Halyna Hutchins, 42, and wounding director Joel Souza in October 2021.

Background actress Janelle Rogers and a friend held signs that read, “Justice for Halyna” on one side and, on the other, “Safety on set! Is a must! No excuses!!”

Locals gathered at a New Mexico courthouse to criticize Alec Baldwin as his manslaughter trial began. AP

Rogers, an Albuquerque resident who once appeared on “Better Call Saul,” criticized the industry, saying, “There is no safety on set.”

“Safety is a must on set, no matter who you are or where you are,” Rogers said. “Halyna Hutchins should not have died.”

Rogers said she has a friend who worked as an extra on “Rust” and she believes a lot of people must have made a mistake for the shooting to happen.

“I blame a lot of people for her death. It’s multiple people. Just because you’re an actor or not a producer doesn’t mean you’re exempt,” Rogers said.

She also criticized the “30 Rock” star for creating a reality TV show “The Baldwins” starring his wife Hilaria Baldwin and his seven children, which will premiere next year on TLC.

“It’s a joke,” Rogers said of the show. “I think he’s doing it for a publicity stunt.”

Hilaria and Baldwin brought their baby to court on Tuesday for jury selection, but neither of their children were present on Wednesday.

Baldwin could be charged with involuntary manslaughter and face up to 18 months in prison if convicted. Getty Images

“I think it’s absolutely grotesque and then he came here with his wife and baby,” Rogers said. “She has no business being here. I think it’s a huge publicity stunt to promote him.”

“It’s selfish, it’s narcissistic. We saw that when he played Trump,” Rogers said, referring to Baldwin’s recurring role on “Saturday Night Live” in which he parodied the former president.

“He played that role with ease. Why is that? The attitude of ‘I’m above everyone.’ Immunity. Exceptions.”

Rachel Jarrell, 32, was the first in line to attend the trial on Wednesday, after driving an hour from her home in Rio Rancho, N.M.

Jarrell, a homemaker with two children, said she had been following the case closely during a separate trial of budding gunmaker Hannah Gutierrez-Reed of “Rust,” who was sentenced to 18 months in prison after being found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in March.

“I’ve been following the Gutierrez case,” Jarrell said.[I’m] I was super excited that it was in my home state. [I] I drove about an hour to get here.”

Rachel Jarrell was the first to attend the trial. Gerry Ruelas for NY Post

Jarrell said she supports stricter gun laws and wants justice for Hutchins.

As for the Baldwins’ upcoming reality show, Jarrell said, “I think it was wild to capitalize on a tragedy for fame. I thought that was sad.”

“I would say Halyna’s death is a tragedy. To ride that from a wave to a reality show,” she added.

Santa Fe resident Frank Winberly, 81, said he did not believe Baldwin’s claims in the media after Hutchins’ death that he had not pulled the trigger on his replica .45-caliber Colt revolver.

Camerawoman Halyna Hutchins was shot dead on the set of “Rust” in 2021. Getty Images for SAGindie

“The hammer don’t drop unless you pull the trigger,” Winberly said. “I think he pulled the trigger.”

Baldwin attorney Alex Spiro said Wednesday morning that his client did not “intentionally” pull the trigger — an apparent attempt to back down from Baldwin’s earlier denial.

Spiro said blame for Hutchins’ death should lie with Gutierrez-Reed and others on set who were responsible for the safe use of weapons during filming. Spiro said Baldwin was simply doing his job as an actor when he fired the gun, which should never have contained a live bullet.

Baldwin was rehearsing on the set of his Western when he fired a shot that killed Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza. He has pleaded not guilty in the case. Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office/AFP via Getty Images

But prosecutor Erlinda Ocampo argued during her opening hearing that Baldwin had “used a real gun to pretend” and violated gun safety rules, contributing to the fatal tragedy.

Hilaria and Baldwin’s brother Stephen Baldwin were both in the courtroom gallery, a few rows behind the embattled actor, as the trial began on Wednesday.

Alec and Hilaria received a slightly warmer welcome after the meeting on Wednesday.

After leaving court, the Baldwins went shopping along a touristy stretch of downtown Santa Fe before heading to Starbucks. The couple was spotted with their toddler.

Alec pushed an empty stroller while Hilaria held the little girl’s hand.

He signed autographs for fans at the coffee house.

“I wanted to take a selfie for my dad but I didn’t want to because he’s going through a hard time,” one girl said after leaving Starbucks.

“He was a very, very nice man,” said Lucille Roybal of Santa Fe, who received an autograph addressed to her 2-year-old son, Ocean.

“He was such a nice man that he took the time to give Ocean his autograph.”

Roybal added: “I don’t think he should be found guilty. No, that’s my opinion. I think there should have been people who should have taken care of the weapon.”

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