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Sheriff’s office releases ‘Rust’ case file — minus Baldwin’s phone records on day of shooting

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Sheriff's office releases 'Rust' case file -- minus Baldwin's phone records on day of shooting

Nov. 19—A photo of Alec Baldwin using a cellphone outside the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office after last year’s fatal Rust set shooting was published and broadcast by media worldwide.

It’s still unclear who was at the other end of the emotional call.

A massive case file the sheriff’s office released Friday on its investigation into the shooting states there are no records from Baldwin’s phone on Oct. 21, 2021, the day his prop revolver discharged a live round during a rehearsal at Bonzanza Creek Ranch, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

The file includes an email Baldwin sent to his assistant, Jonah Foxman, two days later: “I have to delete my archive.” A document states there are no messages providing more context about the archive he was referring to.

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The actor’s attorney, Luke Nikas, wrote in a statement Friday, “The email referenced is irrelevant to this matter. Mr. Baldwin was referring to his Twitter archive, which he has long considered deleting.

“He fully preserved all records related to Rust and turned them over to the authorities nearly a year ago,” Nikas added.

The Rust shooting case file — which has been submitted to the District Attorney’s Office for review and a decision on whether anyone involved in the incident will face criminal charges — includes reports from investigators, text and email messages between people working on the ill-fated production and transcripts of interviews. Its release comes about 13 months after Hutchins’ death shocked and saddened the film industry and drew global media attention to Baldwin’s production and gun safety protocols on movie sets.

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Much of the investigation has centered on how a live round ended up on the set at the movie ranch south of Santa Fe — and how it got in Baldwin’s gun.

The .45-caliber bullet that killed Hutchins and wounded Souza wasn’t the only live round found on the set.

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Investigators recovered at least five “functional live cartridges,” according to a report released by the sheriff’s office.

One of the live bullets was found in a box that contained 36 dummy rounds, according to reports. Others were found on a cart used by production armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed to prepare weapons — in a “child sized” bandolier and in a “brown holster.”

The reports indicated spent and unspent cartridges were sometimes intermingled on the set and stored in multiple places.

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A portion of Baldwin’s text messages and email communications are included in the trove of documents the sheriff’s office released Friday as part of the more than 500-page case file.

But sheriff’s office spokesman Juan Ríos said most records from the actor’s phone have not been released.

“We need to comb through them, and we need to determine how we’re going to release them,” Ríos said. “The files are not easily accessible.”

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The digital files, provided by the Suffolk County Police Department in New York, were sent to the local sheriff’s office in an online, encrypted file, he added.

“In order for us to release them, we have to determine how to make copies of them and be able to make redactions … because there are documents in there that have to be redacted,” Ríos said.

He did not respond to questions about whether the unreleased files include cellphone communications from the day of the shooting.

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District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies declined to comment on whether her office or the sheriff’s office has collected Baldwin’s phone records from the day of the shooting. But, she said, a lack of such records would not interfere with her office’s prosecution of any possible criminal charges.

Nikas wrote in his statement, “Mr. Baldwin fully cooperated with the investigation and turned over his phone with all records, including all records from the day of the incident … unless the records reflected privileged communications or were irrelevant to the Rust movie.”

Carmack-Altwies said her office, like the sheriff’s office, is attempting to redact the unreleased cellphone files.

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“We’re just going through … basically, the uploading and redacting process, and that takes a while,” she said. “We will be releasing … what we have.”

The effort to obtain Baldwin’s cellphone records — the final piece of the investigation, according to the sheriff’s office — was lengthy. The case file released Friday states detectives communicated with Baldwin’s attorney for a month about their plans to obtain a search warrant for his phone.

Attorney Aaron Dyer told a detective he would hand over Baldwin’s phone after the agency produced a warrant. However, when a New Mexico warrant was sent to Dyer, he said he wanted a warrant filed in New York, which has “better privacy protection laws.”

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Carmack-Altwies became involved in the process after the Santa Fe detective failed to obtain a New York search warrant. A “permission to search” agreement was drafted and signed by the District Attorney’s Office and Baldwin’s lawyer, according to the case file.

Suffolk County police received Baldwin’s phone in January and finished extracting data Jan. 14. The department sent a copy of the data to Nikas for review, documents state. He then created a list of several items on the phone he had “flagged for removal” from the final report.

His list was sent to Suffolk County police after a meeting in June with Baldwin’s attorneys and officials from the District Attorney’s Office and sheriff’s office. Each item was reviewed by all parties before the final extraction report was sent Aug. 17 to the sheriff’s office.

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Carmack-Altwies declined to comment on whether it is typical to negotiate with attorneys for evidence rather than obtaining it through a search warrant.

The Baldwin phone records released Friday detail a series of messages with law enforcement and Rust production staff before and after the fatal shooting. The actor questions the ability of the sheriff’s office to investigate Hutchins’ death in a Dec. 10, 2021, message to her husband, Matthew Hutchins.

“The Santa Fe [County] Sheriff’s Office may lack both the skill and the will to properly investigate the sabotage angle. I’m told their agenda is to write it off as an accident and throw it to the civil courts,” Baldwin wrote. “I dismissed the sabotage claim initially. But not [now]. I hope these NM have the sense to follow it through.”

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Matthew Hutchins asked where the actor heard the information.

Baldwin wrote multiple attorneys had told him about the “agenda.”

Staff writers Phaedra Haywood and Matt Dahlseid contributed to this report.

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