Mistrial Declared For Rancher Accused Of Killing Illegal Alien Trespasser

On Monday, a judge declared a mistrial in the case of an elderly Arizona rancher who was accused of murdering an illegal alien trespasser on his property along the U.S. southern border.

George Alan Kelly, 75, was charged with second-degree murder after 48-year-old illegal alien Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, who had been deported multiple times in the past, was found dead of a gunshot wound on Kelly’s property in January 2023.

Cuen-Buitimea was trespassing on Kelly’s property with a group of his fellow illegal aliens that had just crossed the southern border near the property in Nogales, Arizona. Kelly’s attorneys argued that their client had only fired warning shots, but had heard another gunshot and immediately called Border Patrol. Kelly later discovered Cuen-Buitimea’s body on his property and again called authorities.

The elderly rancher reported firing warning shots after seeing the group of illegal aliens walking through his property while armed with rifles. Court records show that the bullet that killed Cuen-Buitimea was never recovered, while investigators did find nine shell casings on Kelly’s porch — supporting his claims that he had fired several warning shots.

The jury in the case began deliberating on Thursday following the four-week trial, but could not reach a unanimous decision by Monday — leading Judge Thomas Fink to declare a mistrial.

“Based upon the jury’s inability to reach a verdict on any count,” the judge declared. “This case is in mistrial.”

The court will hold a status hearing on April 29 to figure out whether prosecutors plan to attempt another trial.

Kelly’s attorney, Kathy Lowthorp, declared the mistrial to be “a victory,” adding that it was “the second best answer — not guilty, and then a mistrial. So either way, it’s a win, just not the perfect win.”

Lowthorp also told reporters after leaving the courtroom that seven of the jurors supported a not guilty verdict, while one believed he was guilty. According to NewsNation correspondent Ali Bradley, “One juror thought he was guilty of 2nd degree murder (or lesser charges to include negligent homicide and manslaughter).”

During the trial, Santa Cruz County prosecutor Mike Jette accused Kelly of escalating the situation, disputing his claims that the illegal aliens were armed or posed a threat to the rancher and his family.

“He escalates the situation. His wife is fine,” Jette said. “You do not have the right to use deadly physical force to protect a person who didn’t need protecting. You don’t have the right to use deadly force when there is no threat to home or yard, and you don’t have the right to initiate, instigate or escalate with deadly force.”

Kelly’s lawyers pointed out that, even though the rancher allegedly did not even use deadly force, he would have been justified in doing so because of the situation.

“He can fire warning shots to protect himself and to protect his wife,” defense attorney Brenna Larkin said during the trial. “And that’s exactly what he did. That’s exactly what any man who cares about his wife and his home should do in this situation when faced with the threat that he was faced with.”

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