LONDON: The trial of the armourer who loaded a gun that fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film Rust has begun in the United States, reported German news agency (dpa).

Hutchins died after a gun that US actor Alec Baldwin was rehearsing with fired a live round on the set of the western movie in October 2021.

Before Baldwin's case progresses, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed is being tried on charges of involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence.

She has pleaded not guilty and maintains she is not directly to blame for Hutchins' death. Baldwin has also pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter in a separate case.

Proceedings began on Thursday at a court in Santa Fe, New Mexico, after jury selection took place on Wednesday.

In their opening statement, prosecutors said Gutierrez-Reed was “negligent” in handling guns and ammunition.

Special prosecutor Jason Lewis told the jury: “What we want to do is give you the information that you need to answer two key questions. The first being, what are the events that happened on the set of Rust that led to the death of Halyna Hutchins?

“And the second question is, how did live ammunition end up on the set of the movie? As to both questions, we believe that it was the negligent acts and failures of the defendant, Gutierrez-Reed, that resulted in both the acts that contributed to Hutchins’ death and to the live rounds being brought on to the set.”

Defence lawyer Jason Bowles said Gutierrez-Reed was being used as a “scapegoat”.

“We’re here because of a tragedy, there’s no doubt, there was a tragic occurrence on that movie,” he said

“But let me tell you something you already know: just because there was a tragedy, it does not mean that a crime was committed.

“It does not mean that Hannah Gutierrez-Reed caused the crimes they have charged her with. And we are going to, through the course of this case, show you that production and the state have both, very early on, sought to make Hannah Gutierrez-Reed a scapegoat.”

The first day of the trial also saw prosecutors and defence lawyers question two police officers, who were called to the scene on the day of the shooting, about their bodycam footage which showed the immediate aftermath of the incident.

One of the videos showed one of the officers approaching Baldwin after the shooting.

The evidence presented in the case could have implications for the actor, who was pointing the gun at Hutchins during an October 2021 rehearsal outside Santa Fe when she was killed and director Joel Souza was wounded. -Bernama

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