Mistrial Declared In Case Of Arizona Rancher Accused Of Fatally Shooting Suspected Cartel Guide

rancher
Arizona rancher George Alan Kelly

A judge in southern Arizona has declared a mistrial in the case of a rancher, George Alan Kelly, who was accused of shooting and killing an illegal alien crossing his private property in 2023.

Kelly, age 75, was charged with second-degree murder for the shooting of Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, a suspected cartel guide. Cuen-Buitimea was seen at the time with another illegal alien, both of them carrying weapons and backpacks.

Prosecutors claimed that Kelly recklessly fired nine shots toward a group of men, including Cuen-Buitimea.

Kathy Lowthorp, Kelly’s co-counsel, told NewsNation after the judge declared a mistrial that the jury was 7-1 for a “not guilty” verdict.

As previously reported by the Arizona Daily Independent:

Kelly was arrested Jan. 30 and charged with premeditated first degree murder after he reported finding the body of Cuen-Buitimea about 100 yards from Kelly’s home. Just hours earlier, Kelly had called the U.S. Border Patrol to report hearing shots fired and seeing armed men on his property carrying large backpacks.

Cuen-Buitimea was found with a camouflaged backpack and a two-way radio. He had been shot in the back with the bullet going through his body. The bullet has not been recovered, according to court documents.

Formal charges were filed by the Santa Cruz County Attorney’s Office on Feb. 2, with Kelly facing just one count – premeditated first degree murder, which is a Class 1 felony that can lead to the death penalty. Eventually two counts of aggravated assault against two men who claim they were with Cuen-Buitimea when he was shot were added.

A Feb. 24 preliminary hearing resulted in Justice of the Peace Emilio Velasquez ruling there is probable cause to pursue a second degree murder charge without premeditation as well as two counts of aggravated assault.

Jan. 30 was not the first time Kelly has had contact with USBP in the last few years concerning illegal border crossings on his property in the Kino Springs area east of Nogales, about two miles from the border.

Numerous reports were made by Kelly and his neighbors the last two years, and like many ranchers Kelly reportedly provided keys to his gate so USBP agents could have easy access to investigate illegal activity.

When asked to comment after the judge’s ruling, Kelly told reporters, “It is what it is, and it will be what it will be. Let me go hope. I will not stop fighting.”

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