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not over yet?

Prosecutors to 'conduct further investigation' in Alec Baldwin case: 'Charges may be refiled'

Alec Baldwin has still not been absolved of criminal culpability in the fatal Rust shooting, prosecutors say, even as they plan to drop all charges against him. 

The actor's attorneys confirmed Thursday that prosecutors are dropping involuntary manslaughter charges against him in connection with the 2021 shooting on the set of his movie Rust. Baldwin was holding a prop gun that accidentally went off on set, fatally striking cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. In a statement to Deadline, special prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis said the charges will be dropped after "new facts were revealed that demand further investigation and forensic analysis" ahead of a May 3 preliminary hearing.

"Consequently, we cannot proceed under the current time constraints and on the facts and evidence turned over by law enforcement in its existing form," the prosecutors added. 

They didn't detail these new facts, although the Los Angeles Times reports prosecutors learned the prop gun had been modified, meaning there's a greater chance it could have misfired. Baldwin has repeatedly said he never pulled the trigger of the gun. But the charges are being dismissed without prejudice, so the prosecutors said "this decision does not absolve Mr. Baldwin of criminal culpability and charges may be refiled," adding, "Our follow-up investigation will remain active and on-going."

Los Angeles personal injury attorney Miguel Custodio said in an emailed statement that although it's "a great day" for Baldwin, "I don't think it's over yet," noting armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed is still facing charges. "It's possible they want to wait to see what they can learn from that case, analyze it and decide whether to go forward against Baldwin," Custodio said. But he added, "This news coming just before the preliminary hearing, where they had to justify the viability of the manslaughter case, indicates it wasn't as strong as they thought." 

Baldwin's attorneys celebrated the decision to drop the charges, calling for "a proper investigation into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident." The actor also said on Instagram he owes "everything I have to" his wife, Hilaria, "(and to you, Luke)," apparently referencing attorney Luke Nikas.