Alec Baldwin's 'Rust' trial begins: What to know

Alec Baldwin’s trial in the shooting of a cinematographer began Tuesday with the selection of jurors who will be tasked with deciding whether the actor is guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

The star of "30 Rock" and "The Hunt for Red October" made his first appearance in the courtroom on Monday for a pretrial hearing. The judge has said that the special circumstances of a celebrity trial shouldn't keep jury selection from moving quickly, and that opening statements should begin Wednesday.

Here’s what to know about the fatal shooting at the center of the trial, and what it means for Baldwin:

‘Rust’ movie shooting

A dozen people were inside a movie set church the day Alec Baldwin shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza during a rehearsal for the Western film "Rust." It happened Oct. 21, 2021. 

The crew was rehearsing in the small church on the movie set at Bonanza Creek Ranch in New Mexico.

Baldwin, the lead actor and co-producer of the film, has claimed the gun fired accidentally after he followed instructions to point it toward Hutchins, who was behind the camera. Unaware that it was loaded with a live round, he said he pulled back the hammer — not the trigger — and it fired.

A judge has ruled his role as co-producer of the film is not relevant to the trial, a significant victory for the defense.

RELATED: Rust movie shooting: Jury convicts movie armorer of involuntary manslaughter

Alec Baldwin trial

FILE - Alec Baldwin listens to testimony during a pretrial hearing at the First Judicial District Courthouse on July 8, 2024 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. (Photo by Ross D. Franklin - Pool/Getty Images)

Alec Baldwin’s trial, which is taking place in Santa Fe, began the week of July 9 with jury selection. It’s expected to last nine days, with opening statements on Wednesday, July 10, and closing statements Friday, July 19, if things stay on schedule.

Baldwin is charged with felony involuntary manslaughter, and prosecutors have two alternative standards for proving the charge:

  • Baldwin carried out negligent use of a firearm.
  • Baldwin acted with total disregard of indifference for the safety of others.

The 12 jurors will have to reach just one verdict — guilty or not guilty — on a single count.

Two major themes are likely to emerge throughout questioning: the chaotic atmosphere of the movie set, and the details of the Italian-made classic revolver that Baldwin pointed at Hutchins. 

The trial will be streamed and broadcast by several outlets, including LiveNOW from FOX. Here’s how to watch

Viewer discretion is advised, as the judge ruled graphic images from Hutchins' autopsy and from police lapel cameras during the treatment of her injuries could be shown. 

RELATED: Where to watch LiveNOW from FOX

Is Alec Baldwin in jail?

No, Alec Baldwin has not been in jail while awaiting trial. 

Baldwin remained free pending trial under conditions that include not possessing firearms, consuming alcohol or leaving the country. Baldwin can have limited contact with witnesses when it comes to promoting "Rust," which has not been released for public viewing. Baldwin is prohibited from asking members of the "Rust" cast or crew to participate in a related documentary film.

Will Alec Baldwin go to jail?

Baldwin, 66, could get up to 18 months in prison if jurors unanimously decide he committed the felony.

RELATED: 'Rust' movie medic awarded $1.15 million partial settlement

Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer

Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer is presiding over Alec Baldwin’s trial. 

She also presided over the trial of Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who was working as an armorer on "Rust" when the deadly shooting happened. Gutierrez-Reed was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to 18 months, the same charge and sentencing Baldwin faces. 

When sentencing Gutierrez-Reed in April, the judge told the defendant that anything less than the maximum sentence would not be appropriate, citing what she called recklessness. 

If Gutierrez-Reed's trial is any indication, Marlowe Sommer will keep the attorneys on track and on schedule in what will be a high-profile proceeding.

This story was reported from Detroit. The Associated Press contributed.