Arizona Rancher Accused Of Murdering Illegal Immigrant Trespassing On His Property Won’t Be Retried
A Border Patrol survaillance tower at the US-Mexico border near Sasabe, Arizona, US, on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. During the first four months of fiscal year 2024, Border Patrol recorded more than 250,000 migrant apprehensions in the Tucson sector in Arizona, the most of any region patrolled by the agency, according to federal government statistics, reports CBS.
Credit: Photographer: Justin Hamel/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

A 75-year-old Arizona rancher accused of murdering an illegal immigrant trespassing on his property will not be tried again after a jury could not reach a verdict after several days of deliberation earlier this month. 

Prosecutors for Santa Cruz County said Monday that they would not seek to retry George Alan Kelly over the death of 48-year-old Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, who was found dead on Kelly’s property in January 2023. Kelly, who maintained that he did not shoot Cuen-Buitimea, pled not guilty to a second-degree murder charge in March 2023. 

“Because of the unique circumstances and challenges surrounding this case, the Santa Cruz County Attorney’s Office has decided not to seek a retrial,” said chief deputy Santa Cruz county attorney Kim Hunley. 

“However, our office’s decision in this case should not be construed as a position on future cases of this type,” Hunley’s office added. “Our office is mandated by statute to prosecute criminal acts, and we take that statutory mandate seriously.”

The decision not to retry Kelly came after a four-week trial. Kelly’s legal team said that the jury had been 7-1 in favor of the rancher being found not guilty. 

“I’m just so happy for them. We got the right answer,”said defense lawyer Kathy Lowthorp on Monday, according to local media. “I think he’s ready to get out of the area. This has not been a very fun year and a half.” 

Kelly had been accused of shooting Cuen-Buitimea, a Mexican national, on January 31, 2023, when he was trespassing with a group of other suspected illegal immigrants on Kelly’s property near Nogales, Arizona. The defense argued that Kelly only fired warning shots and did not shoot Cuen-Buitimea.

Santa Cruz County prosecutor Mike Jette accused Kelly of escalating the situation, claiming the rancher did not see anyone armed and said that Kelly had killed Cuen-Buitimea.


Mexico’s consul general in Nogales, Marcos Moreno Báez, said his office was disappointed with the decision.

“The Consulate General deeply regrets lack of justice to the victims, particularly Mr. Cuen’s daughters, whom we accompanied since day one,” Moreno Báez said. “The victim’s family anticipated the verdict based on what they witnessed throughout the trial, namely a very negative narrative concerning migration flows.”

Cuen-Buitimea had previously been deported from the United States after reportedly entering the country multiple times

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