Rancher Accused Of Killing Illegal Immigrant Wins Major Legal Victory


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Jason Hopkins Immigration Reporter
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An Arizona rancher who was previously charged with fatally shooting an illegal immigrant on his property will not be retried, prosecutors declared.

George Alan Kelly, a 75-year-old Arizona rancher who was charged for the 2023 killing of a Mexican national who illegally crossed into the U.S. and encroached on his property, won’t be retried in court, prosecutors announced Monday. The decision comes after a deadlocked jury resulted in the judge declaring a mistrial earlier this month.

“Because of the unique circumstances and challenges surrounding this case, the Santa Cruz County Attorney’s Office has decided not to seek a retrial,” Deputy County Attorney Kimberly Hunley declared to County Superior Court Judge Thomas Fink, according to CBS News.

Kelly was charged on Jan. 30, 2023, for second-degree murder and aggravated assault after allegedly shooting unarmed illegal immigrant Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, 48, as he was traveling through Kelly’s property near the Arizona-Mexico border.

Cuen-Buitimea was allegedly traveling with a group of illegal immigrants at the time, who ran away after spotting Border Patrol agents near the border where they had crossed. As they were running away from the federal agents, Cuen-Buitimea and his group were allegedly heading back to the southern border, passing through Kelly’s ranch.

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While Kelly’s team claimed that he had only fired warning shots several yards above the group of migrants to protect him and his wife, prosecutors argued that the rancher recklessly fired his AK-47 from a distance of roughly 115 yards, allegedly striking Cuen-Buitimea in the back, resulting in the Mexican national’s death. (RELATED: ICE Removed Terror Suspect From Tracking Just Weeks After Entering Country)

After more than two days of deliberations, however, jurors were unable to reach a unanimous decision on a verdict. Judge Fink declared a mistrial on April 22.

Fink told prosecutors after the mistrial that their choices were to either retry the case or drop it altogether — with prosecutors ultimately choosing the latter.

Fink said a hearing would be scheduled to determine whether the case would be dismissed with prejudice, meaning it couldn’t be brought back to court. Brenna Larkin, Kelly’s defense attorney, informed the judge that she would request the case be dismissed with prejudice.

“We’re hoping we get the dismissal with prejudice, we’ll see how we go,” Larkin said, according to KOLD-TV. “I’m glad it’s over. We got the right result. I would have preferred a not guilty verdict and then this would be gone forever and then they would never have to worry about this.”

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