Arizona Rancher Will Not Face Second Trial in Border Shooting Case

An Arizona rancher accused of killing an illegal immigrant will not face another trial after the first trial ended in a mistrial. Santa Cruz County prosecutors have decided not to pursue a second trial for George Alan Kelly after the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict to convict him. The lack of a unanimous decision led prosecutors to opt against further litigation in the case.

Kelly was accused of fatally shooting Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, 48, near Nogales in 2023. Prosecutors claimed that Kelly fired nine shots from an AK-47 rifle at a group of illegal immigrants who had crossed the U.S-Mexico border illegally. However, Kelly maintained that he only fired warning shots and did not intend to shoot anyone. He described seeing armed individuals with rifles and backpacks on his southern Arizona property before firing the warning shots. He later found Cuen-Buitimea's body against a mesquite tree near his house.

Cuen-Buitimea had been previously deported and convicted of illegally entering the United States. Following the decision by prosecutors not to retry the case, Kelly referred to the legal process as a "nightmare" that had come to an end. He declined a plea deal offered by prosecutors that would have required him to plead guilty to negligent homicide. A consultant for Kelly's legal team stated that the county's efforts to prosecute Kelly cost taxpayers over $1 million.

Overall, the prosecutors' decision not to pursue a second trial for Kelly has brought an end to the legal ordeal he has faced in the past.

Written by Staff Reports

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