Prosecutors in New Mexico have dropped firearm enhancement charges against Alec Baldwin following the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie Rust.
The move reduces possible prison time for the actor as the charges carry a mandatory five-year prison sentence.
Mr Baldwin, who faces two involuntary manslaughter charges, still faces up to 18 months in prison.
Rust’s director Joel Souza was also shot and wounded.
Heather Brewer, Santa Fe county district attorney spokesperson, said the prosecution dropped the firearm enhancement charge to “avoid further litigious distractions by Mr Baldwin and his attorneys”.
“The prosecution’s priority is securing justice, not securing billable hours for big-city attorneys,” Ms Brewer said.
According to CBS News, prosecutors also dropped the firearm enhancement charge for Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the film’s armorer, who is responsible for weapons on set.
Lawyers for Mr Baldwin, 64, and Ms Gutierrez-Reed had been arguing against the firearm enhancement charge, saying prosecutors were applying a version of the law passed after the October 2021 shooting accident.
Ms Hutchins, 42, died in hospital after she was shot in the chest by a prop gun fired by Mr Baldwin.
Previously Mr Baldwin’s lawyer, Luke Nikas, said his client “had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun – or anywhere on the movie set”.
“He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds.”
If convicted, along with a prison sentence, Mr Baldwin and Ms Gutierrez-Reed could face a fine of $5,000.
Earlier this month, the parents and sister of Ms Hutchins sued Mr Baldwin and the production company over Ms Hutchins’ death.
Her husband agreed to settle his wrongful death lawsuit, which alleged violations of industry standards – with Mr Baldwin last year. Filming for the Western film will resume in the spring with Mr Baldwin as the lead actor.