Alec Baldwin, who has yet to turn over his cellphone to law enforcement in connection with the law enforcement investigation into the fatal shooting on the set of the movie “Rust, may be holding onto the device for a number of reasons, legal experts told The Post on Friday.
The lawyers theorized that the 63-year old actor may be concerned about the possibility of “incriminating” evidence on the phone— including deleted texts or photos that could hold him in criminal contempt–or may simply want to keep his private conversations out of the public eye.
“There could be incriminating evidence on the phone, or it might be for privacy reasons,” said Kevin Kearon, a former Nassau District Attorney’s Office who’s now a criminal defense lawyer.
“If he deleted text messages or call records then he would face the possibility of criminal contempt,” said Kearon, who works at the Long Island firm Barket Epstein Kearon. “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.”
Investigators previously asked Baldwin for his cellphone because they believe it contains key conversations related to the prop-gun death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in October.
Baldwin responded by telling them they would have to get a warrant, and they did so last month — though the phone has yet to be handed over to New Mexico cops.
Kearon said the move flies in the face of the actor’s previous vow to fully cooperate with police.
“It’s not consistent with his pledge early on to cooperate with law enforcement,” he said. “It certainly looks suspicious to the average person.”
It’s also possible that text messages on the phone contradict previous statements Baldwin has made, Kearon said.
“He has said in a [TV] interview he didn’t pull the trigger…He’s made a number of statements that lock him into a corner,” he said.
The actor may believe that handing over his “whole phone” is “over-broad,” and should be narrowed to only text messages and calls related to the case, said Los Angeles-based criminal defense attorney Louis Shapiro.
“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,” Shapiro said. “But a warrant could narrowly tailor the case-related information that can be extracted from the phone.”
He added, “The more salacious reason is that there’s something incriminating on the phone.”
Investigators may also be looking for evidence that shows other people were at fault, he said.
“They’ll be looking for [texts saying] ‘Oh my god, I didn’t check the gun’ or ‘I hired someone who’s not competent’ — anything that’s incriminating or that could shed more light and give more context. Or anything that could show the culpability of other people,” he said.
Nevertheless, Shapiro said it’s not likely that information “damaging” to Baldwin is on the phone.
“Keep in mind, he gave an interview [to law enforcement]. You have to assume he and his lawyers knew what was on that phone so it wouldn’t be contradicted,” he said.
Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office and New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney’s Office said Friday they are “actively working” with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office and Baldwin’s lawyers get a hold of the cellphone from the actor, who has a home on the East End. This comes after Santa Fe authorities also issued a search warrant for the phone on Dec. 16.
Ultimately, legal experts predicted Baldwin will likely be forced to hand over material on his phone eventually.
“Make no mistake: A lawfully issued subpoena that doesn’t get successfully challenged in court must be complied with or he can be charged with contempt,” Kearon said.
Shapio added, “It’s very likely. It’s certainly relevant.”