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Alec Baldwin Seeks to Throw Out Manslaughter Indictment, Citing ‘Abuse of the System’

Alec Baldwin’s lawyers asked a judge on Thursday to throw out his manslaughter case, accusing prosecutors of “violating nearly every rule in the book” in the course of obtaining an indictment.

The attorneys argued that prosecutors leaked information to the press, failed to present exculpatory evidence to the grand jury, and gave a faulty jury instruction on involuntary manslaughter that “stacked the deck” against Baldwin.

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“Enough is enough,” the lawyers wrote. “This is an abuse of the system, and an abuse of an innocent person whose rights have been trampled to the extreme.”

Baldwin was indicted in January and is scheduled to face a trial on July 9 in Santa Fe, N.M.

He is accused of criminal negligence for allegedly pointing a gun at “Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and pulling the trigger. Baldwin was unaware that the gun was loaded with a live bullet. Hutchins was killed and the film’s director, Joel Souza, was seriously injured.

In the motion filed Thursday, Baldwin’s lawyers argue that the prosecution failed to make witnesses available to the grand jury who would have testified that it was not the actor’s duty to inspect the gun before the scene.

The defense accuses Kari Morrissey, the special prosecutor appointed to handle the case, of failing to adequately inform grand jurors that they could hear from the defense witnesses if they wanted to.

Baldwin’s lawyers wanted jurors to hear testimony from Souza, as well as first assistant director Dave Halls, producer Ryan Smith, and other witnesses who they believed would be helpful to Baldwin.

The defense alleges that Morrissey relied heavily on the state’s expert witness, Bryan Carpenter, who, according to the motion, stated that the actor was responsible for safe handling of firearms.

The attorneys also accuse Morrissey of engaging in “vindictive and malicious” conduct “from start to finish.”

“The State had one goal — indict Baldwin, no matter the truth, no matter the rules or the Court rulings, and no matter what it took to do so,” Baldwin’s attorneys wrote.

The defense also alleges that Morrissey was quoted as an unnamed “source familiar with the case” by NBC News, stating that the prosecution would “humble” Baldwin and provide a “teachable moment.”

The motion offers a preview of some of the factual and legal arguments that the defense is expected to raise at trial, in the event that the motion is denied.

Baldwin has denied pulling the trigger. His team is expected to focus on the condition of the gun at the time of the shooting, and to argue that it had been modified to make it easier to fire without a pull of the trigger.

The prosecution has maintained that the gun was working normally, and that it was broken later on during FBI testing. In the motion to dismiss, however, the defense argues that the gun showed signs of having been filed down, and that some of the internal components appeared aged, even though the gun was supposed to be brand new.

The defense argued that grand jurors were not told that.

Baldwin’s lawyers have also been waging a fight over the legal definition of “involuntary manslaughter.” The motion reveals that his lawyers sought an instruction that prosecutors would have to show that he had “subjective knowledge of an actual risk that the firearm placed in his hand had been loaded with live ammunition.” The court overseeing the grand jury rejected that proposed standard in a ruling on Jan. 11, according to the motion.

The standard jury instruction states only that the defendant “should have known” of the risk of their actions, and acted with a “willful disregard for the safety of others.”

The armorer on the film, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, was convicted last week of involuntary manslaughter for loading the live round into Baldwin’s gun. She faces a maximum of 18 months in prison at her sentencing on April 15. Her attorney has vowed to appeal, in part on the grounds the jury instructions in that case set a lower standard of proof than is required by law.

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