Mistrial Declared For Arizona Rancher Accused Of Murdering Illegal Immigrant Trespassing On Property
TOPSHOT - This aerial picture taken on December 8, 2023 shows the US-Mexico border wall in Sasabe, Arizona. Jaguars don't understand borders, but where the United States meets Mexico, they are having to adapt to them. Once the master of the plains of the Sonoran Desert, the animal is now struggling to survive in a landscape cut in two by a wall The barrier, which former US President Donald Trump boasted he would make "impenetrable" does little to discourage the thousands of people from Latin America, Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe who arrive every day. But, say conservationists, it is deadly to wildlife. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP)
Credit: Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images.

A judge declared a mistrial on Monday in the case of a 75-year-old Arizona rancher accused of murdering an illegal immigrant trespassing on his property after a jury could not reach a verdict after several days of deliberation. 

George Alan Kelly had been accused of second-degree murder over the death of 48-year-old Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, who was shot in January 2023. The jury started deliberating on Thursday after a four-week trial and could not reach a unanimous decision by Monday. 

“Based upon the jury’s inability to reach a verdict on any count,” Judge Thomas Fink said, “This case is in mistrial.”

A status hearing will take place on April 29 to determine whether prosecutors will attempt another trial. Kelly pled not guilty in March 2023 to the murder charge as well as a count of aggravated assault. 

“It’s a victory,” said defense lawyer Kathy Lowthorp of the mistrial, The Epoch Times reported. “It’s the second best answer – not guilty, and then a mistrial. So either way, it’s a win, just not the perfect win.”

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. Kelly’s legal team said he had heard a shot and immediately called Border Patrol before later finding Cuen-Buitimea’s body on his property when he again called the authorities. 

According to the rancher, he fired warning shots after he saw the group go by because he was worried for his and his wife’s safety after he saw a group of men with rifles go by his home.

Santa Cruz County prosecutor Mike Jette accused Kelly of escalating the situation, claiming the rancher did not see anyone armed. 

“He escalates the situation. His wife is fine,” Jette said, Fox News reported. “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 team argued that even though he didn’t use deadly force, he could have been justified to use it because of the situation. 

“He can fire warning shots to protect himself and to protect his wife,” defense attorney Brenna Larkin said. “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.” 

Cuen-Buitimea had previously been deported from the United States after reportedly entering the country multiple times. Arizona has been one of the hotspots for illegal crossings as illegal immigration has surged under President Joe Biden. 

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