Judge declares mistrial for Arizona rancher charged with murder of illegal on his property: ‘Let me go home’

A deadlocked jury left an Arizona rancher charged with the murder of an illegal alien awaiting next steps after the judge declared a mistrial.

“Let me go home.”

(Video: KGUN 9)

On Jan. 30, 2023, the open border had allegedly found 48-year-old Mexican national Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea trespassing on the ranch of then-73-year-old George Alan Kelly in Kino Springs outside Nogales, Arizona.

A fatal gunshot wound suffered by Cuen-Buitimea landed Kelly on trial charged with second-degree murder that came to a stopping point Monday when Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Thomas Fink declared a mistrial.

“Based upon the jury’s inability to reach a verdict on any count, this case is in mistrial,” Fink announced as he set a hearing for the following week to determine if the case would be retried.

Outside the courthouse, surrounded by reporters, Kelly expressed, “It is what it is and it will be what it will be. Let me go home.”

As had been previously covered, the rancher had initially been charged with first-degree murder only to have the charge reduced to second-degree murder after an evidentiary hearing challenged the original claims, particularly as no bullet had been recovered for ballistics analysis.

The prosecution had argued that when Kelly had encountered a group of men trespassing on his ranch, he had fired nine shots from his rifle toward them, ultimately leading to the illegal alien’s death. However, the rancher maintained that he had only fired warning shots into the air, prompting two days of deliberation that, according to the defendant’s attorney Kathy Lowthorp, were stalled by one holdout juror.

“We believed in our gut that there was no way the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt,” she told the media as they had pushed for another day of deliberation in hopes of reaching an acquittal.

During closing statements, fellow defense attorney Brenna Larkin had brought up the victim’s multiple illegal entries into the United States and said Thursday, “Long story short, this is simply not somebody who’s looking for the American dream. There’s no evidence that this person is here for those kinds of benign purposes.”

“And we bring that up, not, you know, to be judgmental about Gabriel or to not have compassion for him. But when people are involved in a criminal lifestyle, it’s dangerous,” she added as the case had been made by the defense that the fatal gunshot wound may have originated from a bandit who sought to rob Cuen-Buitimea. “It’s more inherently dangerous than simply being a migrant who’s coming here. So it’s relevant for that reason.”

Outside the courthouse, accompanying Cuen-Buitimea’s adult daughters, Consul General Marco Moreno Baez of the Mexican consulate in Nogales said, “Mexico will continue to follow the case and continue to accompany the family, which wants justice. We hope for a very fair outcome.”

Kevin Haggerty

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