A firearm enhancement charge against Alec Baldwin has been dropped, a significant win for the Oscar-nominated actor who is accused in the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the New Mexico set of the Western movie “Rust.”
Prosecutors last month charged Baldwin with involuntary manslaughter, accusing him of skipping “required firearms training” and creating “a climate of recklessness” on the set.
A firearm enhancement on the charge could have made the crime punishable by a mandatory sentence of five years in jail, prosecutors said. Instead, Baldwin now faces a maximum of 18 months behind bars if he is convicted in the shooting.
First Judicial District Attorney of Sante Fe County Mary Carmack-Altwies dropped the charges against the 64-year-old actor on Friday, Feb. 17, according to new court filings made public Monday, Feb. 20.
The development comes on the heels of Baldwin filing a motion this month to remove special prosecutor Andrea Reeb from the case, citing New Mexico’s separation-of-powers statute.
Baldwin’s legal team argued that Reeb, a member of the New Mexico House of Representatives, should be barred from the prosecutor’s table because the state constitution says a “sitting member of the Legislature may not ‘exercise any powers properly belonging’ to either the executive or judicial branch,” according to a filing with the First Judicial District Court of New Mexico.
State prosecutors also charged Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the film’s armorer who was responsible for weapons on the set, with involuntary manslaughter and dropped the gun enhancement charge against her, too. Representatives for Gutierrez-Reed did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Baldwin’s attorney declined to comment on the latest development, but earlier objected to the enhancement, saying it was unconstitutional because it was added after the shooting.
“The prosecutors committed a basic legal error by charging Mr. Baldwin under a version of the firearm-enhancement statue that did not exist on the date of the accident,” Baldwin’s attorneys said in a previous court filing.
Baldwin was rehearsing with a pistol for a scene on Oct. 21, 2021, when the gun went off, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza, officials said.
He has denied any wrongdoing in the on-set shooting.
His attorney, Luke Nikas, has called the charges a “terrible miscarriage of justice.” Nikas has previously said the defense would fight the accusations and win.
“Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the movie set,” Nikas has said. “He relied on the professionals with whom he worked.”
Baldwin’s next court date is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 24.
This story first appeared on NBCNews.com.