Mistrial Declared For Arizona Rancher In Border Property Murder Case Of Illegal

(LibertySociety.com) – An Arizona rancher on trial for second-degree murder of a Mexican national trespassing on his property likely breathed a sigh of relief on April 22 when a jury could not agree on a verdict.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Fink announced the inability to reach a unanimous decision, stating, “This case is in mistrial.” George Alan Kelly, 75, was charged after Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea was found dead on Kelly’s property on January 30, 2023. His cattle ranch spans 170 acres near Keno Springs, Arizona.

Kelly’s wife Wanda Kelly testified that they called their liaison at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to report two male trespassers armed with rifles within 100 feet of their home. Authorities responded to the call, but George Kelly called back later that day to report he had found a dead body. His lawyers argued that he stood on his patio and fired warning shots to get the men to leave, but prosecutors believed that he shot Cuen-Buitimea on purpose.

During closing arguments, the prosecution argued that Cuen-Buitimea was unarmed and not a threat to Kelly’s home or property. The defense countered the argument by accusing Cuen-Buitimea of being involved with a Mexican cartel and pointed out that there was “no evidence” that he was in the country to find a better life. The bullet that killed him was never found at the scene, but nine shell casings were recovered from Kelly’s AK-47.

A criminologist who voluntarily testified for the defense during the trial pointed out that no witnesses from the prosecution offered a rebuttal when the defense theorized that Cuen-Buitimea could have been killed by “a gang of bandits, sometimes cartel-affiliated.” Kelly was also charged with aggravated assault of a man named Daniel Ramirez. He was allegedly the only person to witness Cuen-Buitimea’s death. However, Ramirez did not provide an accurate description of Kelly’s property, which called his testimony into question. The Santa Cruz County Attorney’s Office could ask for a new trial but may decide to just drop the case during an upcoming status hearing.

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