The special prosecutor in the “Rust” fatal movie shooting case announced Tuesday that she has stepped down to allow the prosecution to “focus on the evidence and the facts.”
The 1st Judicial District Attorney’s Office made the announcement in an email shortly after 5 p.m.
“After much reflection, I have made the difficult decision to step down as special prosecutor in the ‘Rust’ case,” Andrea Reeb said in the written statement.
A hearing had been scheduled on March 27 to consider a motion filed by actor Alec Baldwin’s attorneys to disqualify Reeb as the special prosecutor.
Reeb said in the statement Tuesday that her priority remains seeking 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,” Reeb wrote.
“I will not allow questions about my serving as a legislator and prosecutor to cloud the real issue at hand,” she said.
Baldwin’s attorneys filed a motion last month asking state District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer to disqualify Reeb as special prosecutor. The motion alleged that Reeb — a Republican state representative from Clovis — violated the state Constitution’s separation-of-powers provision by serving as both a prosecutor and a legislator.
A second motion also alleged that the 1st Judicial District Attorney’s Office and Reeb had unfairly criticized Baldwin’s attorneys and misstated his potential sentence in emails and on national television appearances.
Reeb did not immediately respond to a phone message Tuesday seeking comment.
A dispute between prosecutors and Baldwin’s attorneys arose over the specific criminal charges Baldwin faces in the October 2021 death of cinematographer Hutchins while the two were rehearsing a scene on the “Rust” movie set near Santa Fe.
Baldwin was holding a gun that discharged on the movie set, killing Hutchins.
District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies initially charged Baldwin on Jan. 31 with involuntary manslaughter in Hutchins’ death. The most serious of the charges carried a mandatory five-year prison sentence under the state’s current firearm-enhancement statute.
Prosecutors changed course Feb. 13 and downgraded the involuntary manslaughter charges against Baldwin, dropping the possibility of a mandatory five-year sentence.
The remaining alternative standard now requires proof of negligence and is punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine under New Mexico law.