Arizona Rancher Suspected of Migrant Murder Won’t Be Retried After Mistrial

A rancher in Arizona will not face another trial for his role in the fatal shooting of a Mexican man who was on his property.

On Monday, prosecutors said they wouldn’t retry the case, after the original case ended last week with the jury being deadlocked.

The jurors in the case for George Alan Kelly weren’t able to reach a decision that was unanimous, after deliberating for more than two days. On April 22, Thomas Fink, the judge overseeing the case in Santa Cruz County Superior Court, therefore declared a mistrial.

Following the mistrial, the attorney’s office in Santa Cruz County could either attempt to retry Kelly or drop the case altogether. As Kimberly Hunley, the deputy county attorney, told the judge on Monday:

“Because of the unique circumstances and challenges surrounding this case, the Santa Cruz County Attorney’s Office has decided not to seek a retrial.”

As a result, the judge agreed that the case would be dismissed. A hearing still needs to be scheduled to make a determination if the case would be dismissed with prejudice or not. If it is, then the case could never be brought back up in court.

Brenna Larkin, who served as the defense lawyer for Kelly, said in court that she would be filing a request for the case to be dismissed with prejudice. As she said to KOLD-TV, a local CBS affiliate:

“We’re hoping we get the dismissal with prejudice. We’ll see how we go. I’m glad it’s over. We got the right result. I would have preferred a not guilty verdict and then this would be gone forever and then they would never have to worry about this.”

A reporter asked Kelly to give his reaction to the decision as he left the courthouse. He responded that he felt “relief.” As he said:

“The nightmare is over.”

Kelly also said that the family of the victim “has my sincere sympathy.”

When Kelly left the courthouse, he was trailed by many demonstrators who were protesting for the victim in the case, Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, a 48-year-old man who was fatally shot on January 30 in 2023.

As Trayce Peterson, one of the protestors, said to KOLD:

“It’s not an issue for me about punishing Mr. Kelly. It’s about looking at the victim as a human being because at the trial really what happened was the man who was killed was put on trial.”

Kelly, who is 75 years old, spent nearly the last month on trial in the border city of Nogales. He was charged with second-degree murder for killing Cuen-Buitimea.

The victim lived just south of the border in Nogales, Mexico. Kelly encountered a group of men that included Cuen-Buitimea on his cattle ranch.

Prosecutors accused Kelly of recklessly firing nine shots from his AK-47 rifle toward the group of men, who were about 100 yards away from him. Kelly claimed he fired the shots in the air, and say he wasn’t directly firing at anyone.