Judge Declares Mistrial for Arizona Rancher Accused of Killing Unarmed Migrant

The court has confirmed that a judge has declared a mistrial in the criminal case against George Alan Kelly, a 75-year-old Arizona rancher. Kelly was accused of fatally shooting a migrant on his property near the U.S.-Mexico border.

The jurors have been discussing the case since Thursday afternoon.

Kelly is facing charges of second-degree murder and aggravated assault for the fatal shooting of Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea on January 30, 2023. Gabriel was a 48-year-old migrant who lived in Nogales, Mexico, just across the border. He said he was not guilty.

Cuen-Buitimea was with a group of migrants who started running when they saw border patrol agents in the area, according to law enforcement officials. Cuen-Buitimea and another migrant were reportedly returning to the southern side of the border when they crossed through Kelly’s cattle ranch.

Prosecutors claim that Kelly fired his AK-47 from a distance of approximately 115 yards, hitting Cuen-Buitimea in the back and causing his death.

During the trial, the prosecutors highlighted the fact that Kelly gave different statements to law enforcement officials at different times during the investigation.

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Prosecutors say that Kelly first told Jeremy Marcel, a border patrol agent who worked as a ranch liaison, that he fired back because he was being shot at by a group of five armed people who were wearing backpacks and running south.

Prosecutors said that Kelly initially did not inform law enforcement agents that he had fired his weapon. Prosecutors stated that his account changed shortly after when he informed law enforcement that a group of approximately 10-15 individuals, armed with AR-style rifles, were involved.

Officials say that Cuen-Buitimea did not have a weapon and they could not find any evidence that another weapon had been used.

“Imagine this scenario: You spot two migrants who are not carrying any weapons, walking towards the south beyond two fence lines. In response, you grab your AK-47, step outside without saying anything, aim it at them, and shoot. Would a reasonable person consider this to be an appropriate action in that situation?” asked prosecutor Mike Jette as he made his closing arguments to the jury. “No, the answer has to be no.”

Kelly’s lawyers attempted to find flaws in the prosecutor’s version of what happened and claimed that law enforcement officials did not pursue other leads that could have proven their client’s innocence. They also said that law enforcement falsely claimed that Kelly admitted to shooting at multiple people.

“Alan never said that, so it’s not true. “Law enforcement wasn’t paying attention and they didn’t care, they had already made up their minds that he was guilty,” said defense attorney Brenna Larkin.

The defense argued that Kelly was trying to protect himself and his wife, and that he only fired shots into the air above the group as a warning. The authorities could not find the bullet that hit Cuen-Buitimea. The defense argued that someone else in the group shot him.

During the trial, lead detective Jorge Ainza testified and informed Kelly’s attorneys that he believed Kelly was the one who shot at Cuen-Buitimea.

“There is no additional shot required for this.” The victim was seriously injured by a powerful rifle, specifically an AK-47 rifle that was fired from Mr. Kelly’s residence,” he said.

During the trial, the jurors went to Kelly’s ranch. Investigators found 9 shell casings outside of his home that matched the pattern of shots fired towards Cuen-Buitimea.

Jurors also listened to Daniel Ramirez’s testimony. Ramirez, a migrant, stated that he was with Cuen-Buitimea. Ramirez claimed that Cuen-Buitimea grabbed his chest and said, “I’m hit” before dying.

Ramirez stated that they were being illegally brought into the United States and were not involved in drug trafficking. Ramirez confessed to smuggling marijuana once before in order to lower the amount of money he owed to the smugglers who were helping him cross the border.

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