Wednesday April 17th, 2024 7:40AM

Ammo supplier says he provided no live rounds in fatal shooting of cinematographer by Alec Baldwin

By The Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — An ammunition supplier testified at trial Monday that he only provided inert dummy rounds to the Western film “Rust” where actor Alec Baldwin fatally shot a cinematographer in 2021, though he also was handling live rounds from another production at that time.

Albuquerque-based movie firearms and ammunition supplier Seth Kenney took the stand at the trial of “Rust” movie armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering in the death of cinematagropher Halyna Hutchins.

Kenney told a jury he cleaned and repackaged ammunition to “Rust” that was previously supplied to a production in Texas, handing off a box of 50 inert dummy rounds containing no gunpower to the “Rust” props supervisor on Oct. 12, 2021.

Kenney also said he scrubbed the exterior of the rounds and cleaned out residue inside in each of them to ensure the telltale rattle of a metal pellet inside dummy rounds could be heard for safety purposes.

The outcome of trial may hinge on testimony about the source of six live rounds discovered on the “Rust” set — including the one from Baldwin's gun. Live ammunition is expressly prohibited on movie sets by the industry and union guidelines.

Prosecutors say Gutierrez-Reed is to blame for unwittingly bringing live ammunition on set and that she flouted basic safety protocols for weapons handling. She has pleaded not guilty.

Defense attorneys say their client is being smeared and unfairly scapegoated for problems beyond her control, including Baldwin's handling of the weapons. On Monday, they highlighted images of Kenney's “cluttered" business, a storage system without written inventories, and Kenney's “hazy” recollection of his timeline for receiving live rounds for another production.

Baldwin, the lead actor and co-producer on “Rust,” was separately indicted by a grand jury last month on an involuntary manslaughter charge in connection with the fatal shooting of Hutchins. He has pleaded not guilty, and his trial is scheduled for July.

Baldwin was pointing the gun at Hutchins during a rehearsal on the set outside of Santa Fe when the gun went off, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza.

In Monday's testimony, Kenney said he provided “Rust” props master Sarah Zachry, who also managed weapons and ammunition for the production, with dummy ammunition retrieved from a props storage truck on the Texas set of the television series “1883."

“Did you ever give any live ammunition to Sarah Zachry?” prosecutor Kari Morrissey asked Kenney. He responded, “No.”

Responding to additional questions, Kenney said Monday that didn't have any ammunition that looked like the live rounds investigators found on the set of “Rust.”

At the same time, Kenney acknowledged he stored live rounds that were used in a live-ammunition shooting exercise for actors on “1883,” arranged at a private ranch of series creator Taylor Sheridan.

Kenney said the live rounds from that shooting exercise were brought back to his shop, stored in a bathroom within a gray plastic container marked “live rounds” on the outside.

The live rounds were initially provided to “1883” by Gutierrez-Reed's step-father, the Hollywood sharp shooter and weapons consultant Thell Reed.

Investigators from the Santa Fe sheriff’s office searched Kenney’s Albuquerque supply shop several weeks after the fatal shooting, seizing live rounds that were sent to the FBI for analysis and comparison with live rounds discovered on the set of “Rust.”

Defense attorney Jason Bowles has argued that Kenney wasn't properly investigated for his role as a “Rust” supplier. Bowles on Monday highlighted the fact that the search of Kenney's business took place about a month after the fatal shooting.

Kenney's testimony also delved into his disagreements with Gutierrez-Reed about her job performance on the set of “Rust” in connection with a gun misfire — prior to the fatal shooting.

Testimony Monday also delved into evidence related to a tampering charge against Gutierrez-Reed. That charge stems from accusations that she handed a small bag of possible narcotics to another crew member after the shooting to avoid detection.

A crew member from food services testified that she went to Gutierrez-Reed’s hotel room the evening after the fatal shooting to keep the armorer company at the request of a union steward. She said Gutierrez-Reed handed her some white powder in a plastic baggie within another baggie, and that she felt insulted and threw it into a hallway garbage container after leaving the room.

“In fairness, you probably had five seconds to look at this bag, is that right?” said Bowles, the defense attorney. “You have a belief, but you don’t know for certain, what was in that bag.”

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