Mexican officials regret US decision not to retry American rancher in fatal shooting of Mexican man

Apr 30, 2024, 4:00 PM

Arizona rancher George Alan Kelly won't be tried in court again...

George Alan Kelly, above, entered court for his preliminary hearing on Feb. 22, 2023. (Photos: Nati Harnik via AP, left, Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic via AP, right)

(Photos: Nati Harnik via AP, left, Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic via AP, right)

PHOENIX (AP) — Mexico’s top official in the Arizona border town of Nogales said Tuesday his country is displeased that prosecutors in the U.S. won’t retry an American rancher accused of fatally shooting a Mexican man on his property.

Prosecutors had the option to retry George Alan Kelly, 75, or drop the case after the jury deadlocked on a verdict last week and the judge declared a mistrial.

“This seems to us to be a very regrettable decision,” Mexican Consul General Marcos Moreno Baez said of the announcement a day earlier by the Santa Cruz County Attorney Office.

“We will explore other options with the family, including a civil process,” Moreno said, referring to the possibility of a lawsuit.

What was Arizona rancher George Alan Kelly charged with?

Kelly had been charged with second-degree murder in the Jan. 30, 2023, shooting of Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, 48, who lived just south of the border in Nogales, Mexico.

Prosecutors had said Kelly recklessly fired nine shots from an AK-style rifle toward a group of men about 100 yards (90 meters) away on his cattle ranch near the U.S. southern border. Kelly has said he fired warning shots in the air, but argued he didn’t shoot directly at anyone.

Judge Thomas Fink said a hearing would be scheduled later to determine if the case would be dismissed with prejudice, which would mean it couldn’t be brought back to court. No new documents in the case had been posted by midday Tuesday.

Kelly’s defense attorney Brenna Larkin welcomed the decision not to retry her client.

“Mr. Kelly and his wife have been living through a nightmare for over a year, and they can finally rest easy,” said Larkin said Tuesday. “While that injustice to Gabriel and his family is unfortunate, we are at least pleased to know that the injustice will not be compounded by scapegoating an innocent man.”

Larkin said she was “curious about the Mexican government’s continued involvement in this case” and noted that Cuen-Buitimea had been arrested and deported several times for illegal entry into the U.S.

Moreno said the consulate he heads in Nogales, Arizona, will continue supporting Cuen-Buitimea’s family. Consular officials sat with the victim’s two adult daughters during the trial.

The trial coincided with a U.S. presidential election race that has drawn widespread interest in border security. During it, court officials took jurors to Kelly’s ranch as well as a section of the U.S.-Mexico border.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Refuge Fire: Arson suspect arrested, given multiple charges...

Serena O'Sullivan

Arizona man accused of starting fire in wildlife refuge near California border

The Yuma County Sheriff's Office said a man accused of starting the Refuge Fire near the Arizona-California border was arrested.

25 minutes ago

A Porter Airlines plane soars above the clouds. The Canadian carrier will debut a Phoenix-Toronto r...

Kevin Stone

Canada-based Porter Airlines to make Arizona debut with Phoenix-Toronto route

Porter Airlines, a Canadian carrier, will make its Arizona debut later this year with a new nonstop route between Phoenix and Toronto.

54 minutes ago

deadly heat wave last summer...

Associated Press

After a deadly heat wave last summer, metro Phoenix is changing tactics

Fresh memories of the deadly heat wave last summer have led Arizona authorities to launch new tactics ahead of summer 2024.

2 hours ago

Suspect dead after shooting involving Phoenix Police officer...

Suspect dead, police officer injured after shootout in Phoenix

A suspect is dead after a shooting involving an officer with the Phoenix Police Department on May 28, 2024, authorities said.

4 hours ago

Bar and grill chain Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers is opening its 17th location in Arizona and first in...

Bailey Leasure

Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers to open new location in Surprise

Bar and grill chain Cold Beers and Cheeseburgers is opening its 17th location in Arizona and first in Surprise.

5 hours ago


Nick Borgia

Loop 101 off-ramp set to close in Scottsdale for highway expansion

The off-ramp of northbound Loop 101 at Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard is scheduled to be closed for approximately 60 days, officials announced.

6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.


Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

Mexican officials regret US decision not to retry American rancher in fatal shooting of Mexican man