Rancher Will Not Face Second Murder Trial After Jurors Split in First

(NationRise.com) – An Arizona rancher who was charged with murder after shooting an illegal immigrant on his property will not face a retrial.

George Alan Kelly, 75, faced second-degree murder charges after he killed Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea in January 2023. Kelly claimed self-defense after finding multiple illegal immigrants trespassing on his ranch, which is situated less than two miles from the Mexican border. He fired warning shots to scare them away, but one bullet hit Cuen-Buitimea, 48, in the back. Prosecutors claimed he shot carelessly, leading to the death.

All but one juror assigned to the case agreed that Kelly was innocent. A single holdout pushed to convict and “would not listen to evidence,” according to Kelly’s legal team. The jury reached a stalemate after 15 hours of deliberations on April 18th, leading the judge to declare a mistrial.

The state spent some time weighing whether it would be worth pursuing another trial. Prosecutors ultimately decided against it on April 29th, a week after the mistrial was declared. Kimberly Hunley, the deputy county attorney for Santa Cruz County, delivered the news to Judge Thomas Fink that same day.

Cuen-Buitimea had a lengthy criminal record of repeatedly entering the United States illegally. He was most recently deported in 2016.

Officials in the Mexican government expressed anger over the decision to avoid a retrial. Marcos Moreno Baez, who serves as the Mexican Consul General, called it a “very regrettable decision.” He also promised to explore additional options while hinting at a possible lawsuit. Mexican officials had previously criticized prosecutors for the second-degree murder charge, claiming it was “too light.” They demanded a first-degree charge instead.

However, Brenna Larkin, who represented Kelly in court, said her client and his wife have been forced to live in a nightmare since the incident occurred. She said the decision will finally allow them to rest with ease. She also hinted that it was suspicious for the Mexican government to get so involved in the case even though they failed to prosecute Cuen-Buitimea after he was deported from the US on multiple occasions.

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