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The special prosecutor overseeing criminal charges in the Rust shooting is stepping down from the case.
In a statement, Andrea Reeb said she will no longer assist in the prosecution in light of arguments from Alec Baldwin’s lawyers that it’s “unconstitutional” for her to participate in the case due to her elected position in the New Mexico House of Representatives.
“My priority in this case—and in every case I’ve prosecuted in my 25-year career—has been justice for the victim,” the statement continues. “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.”
The move is the latest setback for prosecutors, who charged Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed with two counts each of involuntary manslaughter. It comes less than a month after Mary Carmack-Altwies, the district attorney who serves Santa Fe County, filed an amended complaint downgrading the charges by removing a recently-amended firearm enhancement statute that didn’t exist at the time of the incident. The defendants now face a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison if convicted instead of six and a half years.
In February, Baldwin’s lawyers moved to disqualify Reeb from the case. They argued that her position as a special prosecutor violated the New Mexico constitution since she also serves as a state legislator. Prosecutors in future cases could, for example, seek to gain favor with legislators by offering them positions on high-profile cases that could boost their careers.
“Representative Reeb is not constitutionally permitted to serve simultaneously as a legislator and a special prosecutor,” wrote Luke Nikas, representing Baldwin, in a motion. “Doing so vests two core powers of different branches — legislating and prosecuting — in the same person and is thus barred by the plain language of Article III of the New Mexico Constitution.” Nikas didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment on Reeb’s move to step down.
Reeb was the district attorney for the Ninth Judicial District in New Mexico before resigning in March 2022. She was brought onto the case by Carmack-Altwies, who requested a “more qualified attorney to assist in the prosecution in this matter.”
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