The district attorney who charged actor Alec Baldwin has stepped down, clearing the way for special prosecutors to take over the case.
Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies announced on Wednesday that she was stepping down from the case – and that she had appointed New Mexico attorneys Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis to take over the case.
“My responsibility to the people of the First Judicial District is greater than any one case, which is why I have chosen to appoint a special prosecutor in the ‘Rust’ case,” Carmack-Altwies said. “Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis will unflinchingly pursue justice in the death of Halyna Hutchins on behalf of the people of First Judicial District.
Carmack-Altwies made the change after Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer ruled on Monday that she could not appoint a special prosecutor in the case unless the District Attorney’s office planned to recuse itself entirely.
“You cannot use it unless you’re not going to prosecute,” Sommer said.
The news also comes just two weeks after former Special Prosecutor Andrea Reeb stepped down as well. Reeb was the special prosecutor who initially investigated the case — but she was then elected to the New Mexico State House, creating a conflict.
Lawyers for Baldwin had moved to disqualify her, claiming that her continued involvement as a prosecutor would allow her to exercise power in both the state legislature and the state judiciary.
“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,” Baldwin’s attorneys wrote.
“My priority in this case — and in every case I’ve prosecuted in my 25-year career — has been justice for the victim,” Reeb said in a statement confirming her decision. “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.