AP (NEW)

Trial of a southern Arizona rancher charged in fatal shooting of unarmed migrant goes to the jury

Apr 17, 2024, 9:17 PM | Updated: Apr 18, 2024, 5:28 pm

NOGALES, Ariz. (AP) — The trial of a southern Arizona rancher charged with fatally shooting an unarmed migrant on his property near the U.S.-Mexico border went to the jury Thursday.

Jurors did not immediately reach a verdict and will resume deliberations Friday morning.

In closing arguments earlier Thursday, lawyers debated the actions of 75-year-old George Alan Kelly, who is accused of second-degree murder in the January 30, 2023, shooting of Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea.

Cuen-Buitimea, 48, lived just south of the border in Nogales, Mexico. Court records show Cuen-Buitimea had previously entered the U.S. illegally several times and was deported, most recently in 2016

The case has attracted national attention as border security continues to be a top issue this election year and garnered sympathy for the rancher from some on the political right.

Cuen-Buitimea was in a group of men that Kelly encountered on his property. Prosecutor Mike Jette said Kelly recklessly fired an AK-47 rifle toward the group that was about 100 yards (90 meters) away.

Kelly said he fired warning shots in the air, but he didn’t shoot directly at anyone, explaining that he feared for his safety and that of his wife and property.

“He says he shot 100 yards over their heads. But he never told law enforcement that he was in fear of his life,” Jette said in closing arguments.

Kelly fired nine shots toward the group, according to Jette, who said Cuen-Buitimea suffered three broken ribs and a severed aorta.

Jette encouraged jurors to find Kelly guilty of reckless manslaughter or negligent homicide if they can’t convict him on the murder charge.

Defense attorney Brenna Larkin, in her closing argument, said Kelly “was in a life or death situation” that was “a terrifying scenario” for him.

“He was confronted with a threat right outside his home,” Larkin said. “He would have been absolutely justified to use deadly force, but he did not.”

She urged jurors to return a “not guilty” verdict, saying the state didn’t prove its case.

The other migrants on Kelly’s ranch in 2023 weren’t injured and managed to escape back to Mexico.

Larkin has characterized groups of migrants crossing through Kelly’s property as an increasing concern over the years, prompting him to arm himself for protection.

The trial that started March 22 included jurors visiting Kelly’s nearly 170-acre (69-hectare) cattle ranch in Nogales, Arizona.

Earlier in proceedings, Kelly rejected an agreement with prosecutors that would have reduced the charge to one count of negligent homicide if he pleaded guilty.

Kelly was also charged with aggravated assault against another person in the group of about eight people, including a man from Honduras who was living in Mexico and who testified during the trial that he was seeking work in the U.S. that day.

___

This story has been corrected to show that Kelly fired nine shots toward a group that included Cuen-Buitimea, according to the prosecution, not that Cuen-Buitimea was shot nine times.

AP (New)

Associated Press

Former Arizona grad student convicted of first-degree murder in 2022 shooting of professor

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A former University of Arizona graduate student was convicted Tuesday of fatally shooting a professor on campus in 2022 after his expulsion. Murad Dervish, 48, was convicted by a Pima County Superior Court that began deliberating in the morning. Dervish was being tried on seven felony charges including first-degree murder in […]

3 days ago

Associated Press

Ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani pleads not guilty to felony charges in Arizona election interference case

PHOENIX (AP) — Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani pleaded not guilty Tuesday to nine felony charges stemming from his role in an effort to overturn Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss in Arizona to Joe Biden. Ten others, including former Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward, also pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, forgery and […]

4 days ago

Associated Press

Closing arguments set in trial of University of Arizona grad student accused of killing a professor

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday in the trial of a former University of Arizona graduate student accused of killing a professor on campus two years ago. Murad Dervish, 48, faces seven felony charges including first degree murder in the death of Thomas Meixner, 52, who was shot nine times near […]

5 days ago

Associated Press

Arizona man sentenced to natural life in prison for the 2017 death of his wife, who was buried alive

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) — An Arizona man has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 2017 death of his wife, who was buried alive in a hand-dug grave near their home, authorities said. Seven years after the murder, David Pagniano decided to plead guilty before his trial was scheduled […]

5 days ago

Associated Press

Man suspected of shooting 6-month-old son in hostage standoff near Phoenix apparently killed himself

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — A man suspected of shooting his 6-month-old son multiple times after taking the boy and his mother hostage was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in the rubble of a suburban Phoenix home that caught fire during a SWAT standoff, police said Saturday. The boy was reported in critical […]

6 days ago

Associated Press

Man shoots his 6-month-old baby multiple times at home near Phoenix, but child expected to survive

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — A man shot his 6-month-old baby multiple times Friday at a home northwest of Phoenix after taking the infant and its mother captive, but the mother escaped with minor injuries and the child was expected to survive, authorities said. They said the status of the suspect remained unknown after a fire […]

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Trial of a southern Arizona rancher charged in fatal shooting of unarmed migrant goes to the jury