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Mistrial Declared in Arizona Rancher’s Trial for Killing Illegal Immigrant as Jury Deadlocks

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A deadlocked Arizona jury declared a mistrial for the Arizona rancher accused of the murder of a Mexican illegal immigrant who was shot in the trespassing. George Alan Kelly, 75 of Santa Cruz County in AZ, has been charged with second-degree murder for the shooting of Mexican Gabriel Cuen Buitimea on January 30, 2023. By Monday, the jury had concluded. The jury started deliberations on Thursday. Thomas Fink, Superior Court Judge, said the case was a mistrial because the jury failed to decide on any count.

Kelly was increasingly concerned for his safety and that of his family, as illegal immigrants began using his ranch to travel from the border to their final destination. US Border Patrol agents warned him frequently that gangs were bringing drugs through his 170-acre property. Kelly claims that he fired nine warning shots with an AK-47 on the day in question after he spotted a group of men carrying weapons and backpacks near his ranch. One of the shots was said to have struck Cuen Buitimea. Cuen-Buitimea had a history of illegal border crossings. He entered the US several times illegally and was deported. Most recently, he was deported in 2016.

Kelly was indicted for second-degree murder, aggravated assault, and a deadly weapon by the county attorney George Silva. Kelly refused to plead guilty, and he rejected a plea bargain offered by the county attorney that would have allowed him to plead guilty only to one count of negligent murder. Kelly, at 75 years old, probably viewed any prison sentence as life imprisonment and chose to gamble.

The prosecution’s case was riddled with problems. No bullet was found to prove that Kelly was the one who fired the shot that killed Cuen Buitimea. No evidence was found to indicate the time of death. The only witness, another illegal, told contradictory accounts of what occurred, which suggested that he might not have been present at the scene.

Ramirez was the main witness for the prosecution in their case against Kelly. He was the man traveling with Buitimea who escaped when he was shot.

Brenna Larkin, the defense attorney, argued that Ramirez’s testimonies were inconsistent. She questioned Ramirez about where the shooting occurred and where they were concerning the border.

It means he was not there. It means that he’s telling a tale… You can’t have been there and gotten it so wrong. Larkin replied, “It is impossible.”

The police’s conduct is more disturbing.

Larkin argued that the investigation was biased, there were important details missed, and the law enforcement changed Kelly’s testimony. She said that the testimony was incorrectly recorded and also noted how many interviews and phone conversations were not recorded.

Larkin stated, “Confirmation Bias is a major theme in this case.”

She said that many mistakes were made in the investigation. One of them involved a phone call to the Sheriff’s Office after Kelly discovered Buitimea’s corpse.

Kelly claimed that he had never said this statement.

I’d like to take a few moments and make an editorial.

The prosecutor’s plea to the jury to convict Kelly was a good indicator of where this jury would be headed.

If they cannot convict Kelly on the murder charge, [Prosecutor Mike] Jette encourages jurors to find Kelly guilty of negligent homicide or reckless manslaughter.

When the jury told the judge it was stuck, defense attorney Larkin asked the judge to let them continue deliberating.

On April 29th, a hearing will be held to determine whether Kelly will be retried on charges of protecting himself and his property.

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