Legal Experts Speculate Why Alec Baldwin Hasn’t Given Phone to Investigators

Legal Experts Speculate Why Alec Baldwin Hasn't Given Phone to Investigators alec baldwin looks to his right, the photo's left, during a news conference Actor Alec Baldwin (Seth Wenig/AP)

By Charles Kim | Saturday, 08 January 2022 11:04 AM

Several legal experts gave reasons Saturday to why actor Alec Baldwin has not complied with a warrant to turn his cellphone over to law enforcement investigating the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie "Rust" in October, the New York Post reported.

"There could be incriminating evidence on the phone, or it might be for privacy reasons," Kevin Kearon, a former Nassau District Attorney's Office who is now a criminal defense lawyer told the Post. "If he deleted text messages or call records then he would face the possibility of criminal contempt. Or if there are personal messages, for example, between he and his wife, it's not shocking that he wouldn't want them in the public domain."

Baldwin, 63, is being investigated for his role in the shooting on the set of the movie that he was acting in and producing that led to Hutchins' death and injured director Joel Souza when a prop gun Baldwin was holding fired a live round during filming.

According to Dec. 17 story in The New York Times, the shooting took place Oct. 21 on the movie set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico, during the rehearsal of a scene where Baldwin's character in the movie was supposed to "cross draw" a period revolver and point it at the camera lens.

The gun discharged a live round that struck Hutchins, 42, and then hit Souza, 48, according to the Times.

Hutchins was flown to a hospital in Albuquerque where she died, and Souza was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Santa Fe where he was treated and released the next day.

Baldwin said in interviews since the shooting he did not pull the trigger on the weapon and does not know how a live round got into the revolver.

According to the Times, about six crew members walked off the set of the movie in a dispute over working conditions just hours before the shooting.

Investigators issued a warrant for the phone in December to examine text messages, emails, social network, and web browsing activity, according to a story in The Guardian.

"There may be evidence on the phone, due to individuals using cellular phones during and/or after the commission of crime[s]," the Guardian reported the warrant affidavit said. "There were several emails and text messages sent and received regarding the movie production 'Rust' in the course of [police] interviews."

Los Angeles-based criminal defense attorney Louis Shapiro told the Post, while Baldwin not yet giving the phone over to investigators might look suspicious, it would be a fairly common legal move.

"For Baldwin to say, 'Get a warrant' might come across as arrogant or not forthcoming, but it's pretty common," Shapiro said. "He might be saying, 'If you want my whole phone that gets into my personal life, and I don't want to pull other people into this.' But a warrant could narrowly tailor the case-related information that can be extracted from the phone."