High-Profile Rancher Murder Case Declared A Mistrial

(NewsReady.com) – The border crisis has captivated the nation and become fodder for cable news hosts. Meanwhile, the people living in America’s border towns are dealing with its impact. One man took matters into his own hands and someone ended up dead. Now, that man’s Arizona trial has ended without a verdict.

On April 22, Judge Thomas Fink declared a mistrial in his Santa Cruz County Superior Courtroom in the murder case against George Alan Kelly. The judge also scheduled a meeting for April 29 to decide whether the Santa Cruz County Attorney’s Office will retry the Nogales-area rancher. The jury began deliberating on April 18, but was unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

Prosecutors charged Kelly with second-degree murder after authorities discovered the body of 48-year-old Gabriel Cuen Buitimea, a Mexican migrant, on his property on January 30, 2023. The 75-year-old defendant was charged with aggravated assault for putting another man, Daniel Ramirez, in danger.

Ramirez and Buitimea reportedly crossed into the US illegally to find work. They were on Kelly’s 170-acre ranch on the day of the shooting after spotting US Border Patrol. The defendant allegedly fired his AK-47-style rifle at the men nine times when they ran onto his property. A bullet struck Cuen-Buitimea in the back, killing him.

Kelly’s defense attorney claimed he saw a group of men dressed in camouflage with assault rifles on his property while he and his wife were eating lunch. The rancher alleges he fired at them when one of them pointed a rifle at him. Prosecutors disputed his account, saying there was no evidence of a larger group or any weapons.

Cuen-Buitimea had illegally entered the US multiple times. In 2016, he was deported. Ramirez admitted during the trial that he’d previously smuggled drugs into the country. The county attorney’s office has not indicated whether prosecutors plan to try the defendant again.

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