Alec Baldwin Enters Not Guilty Plea in 'Rust' Shooting Case, Will No Longer Appear in Court Friday

Alec Baldwin will no longer have to appear at a previously scheduled Friday hearing after entering a not guilty plea

Alec Baldwin attends the World Premiere of National Geographic Documentary Films' 'The First Wave' at Hamptons
Alec Baldwin. Photo: Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images

Alec Baldwin is officially pleading not guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges brought against him in New Mexico over the October 2021 on-set death of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

On Thursday, Baldwin, 64 entered a not guilty plea in New Mexico's Santa Fe County First District court and waived his right to to appear in court for a hearing that was initially scheduled for Feb. 24, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.

As a result, judge Mary Marlow Sommer has canceled Friday's hearing, which was expected to see Baldwin appear in court for the first time since charges were filed against him and former Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed on Jan. 31, according to Deadline.

Baldwin's not guilty plea comes after prosecutors dropped the firearms enhancement charge originally brought against the actor/producer, which would have given the actor/producer a mandatory five years in jail had he been convicted of the involuntary manslaughter and firearms enhancement charges.

Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin on the set of Rust. Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office/ZUMA

Baldwin still faces a charge of involuntary manslaughter for the shooting — that crime would carry a lesser sentence of 18 months if convicted.

The charge was also dropped against Gutierrez-Reed, who faces the same involuntary manslaughter charge as Baldwin.

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"In order to avoid further litigious distractions by Mr. Baldwin and his attorneys, the District Attorney and the special prosecutor have removed the firearm enhancement to the involuntary manslaughter charges in the death of Halyna Hutchins on the Rust film set," Heather Brewer, spokesperson the Santa Fe District Attorney's Office, said in a statement Monday. "The prosecution's priority is securing justice, not securing billable hours for big-city attorneys."

In addition to criminal charges, Baldwin is also facing another civil lawsuit from Hutchins' parents and sister in her death.

RELATED VIDEO: Alec Baldwin Sees Charge Dropped in 'Rust' Shooting, Faces Reduced Prison Sentence

In a statement to PEOPLE on Jan. 19, Baldwin's attorney Luke Nikas of Quinn Emanuel said the announcement of criminal charges against the actor "distorts Halyna Hutchins' tragic death and represents a terrible miscarriage of justice."

"Mr. Baldwin had no reason to believe there was a live bullet in the gun — or anywhere on the movie set," Nikas added. "He relied on the professionals with whom he worked, who assured him the gun did not have live rounds. We will fight these charges, and we will win."

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