Rancher’s Murder Trial Ends in Mistrial

(RepublicanDaily.org) – The trial of an Arizona rancher accused of murdering an unarmed illegal immigrant he caught on his property has resulted in a mistrial.

George Alan Kelly, 75, who owns a 170-acre cattle ranch that touches the U.S. – Mexico border, allegedly shot and killed 48-year-old Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, a serial illegal migrant who had been deported several times in the past.

The jury in the case deliberated for more than two full days, but were still unable to reach a unanimous decision. As a result, Superior Court Judge Thomas Fink ruled the case as a mistrial. The ball is now in the court of the Santa Cruz County Attorney’s Office, which has yet to decide whether seek for a retrial or just drop all the charges against Kelly altogether.

According to officials, the victim, who hails from Nograles, Mexico just across the border from Arizona, was with a group of migrants attempting to evade border patrol agents. The group were reportedly headed towards the southern side of the border when they crossed into Kelly’s property. Prosecutors claim that it was at that time that Kelly took out his AK-47 assault rifle and shot Cuen-Buitimea in the back from roughly 115 yards away, killing the latter in the process.

Prosecutors pointed to Kelly’s reportedly inconsistent statements to police and his strange behavior after the incident, but were unable to produce the fatal bullet that struck Cuen-Buitimea.

On his part, Kelly’s defense claimed that Kelly only fired a warning shot into the air. The rancher’s defense team also asked the jury to consider the possibility that the victim could have been a member of a drug cartel, as Kelly made a call to his Border Patrol ranch liaison, saying that he saw two men with guns and dressed in camouflage pass just 100 feet from his home. The defense also floated the possibility that Cuen-Buitimea was killed by a “rip crew” – a term for thieves or criminals who join migrant groups to steal from them and flee back into Mexico. Rip crews can either be independent operators or affiliated with drug cartels.

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