Mistrial Declared in High-Profile Murder Trial

(IntegrityTimes.com) – The trial of Arizona rancher, 75-year-old George Alan Kelly, in the death of a Mexican national on his 170-acre cattle ranch near Keno Springs outside Nogales, Arizona has ended in mistrial.

The jury began deliberations on April 18 but were unable to come to a consensus. according to the Arizona Superior Court in Santa Cruz County. Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Thomas Fink has scheduled a hearing for April 29 presumably to decide what will happen next. Most mistrials are retried at a later date.

The prosecution’s case against Kelly hinged on the eyewitness report of Daniel Ramirez. He claimed to have been with the victim Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, when they both crossed onto Kelly’s property on January 30, 2023. Santa Cruz County Sheriff David Hathaway is accused of breaking U.S. State Department protocol and Mexican law by travelling across the border to interview Ramirez. According to his testimony he was not even there that day. Prosecutor Mike Jette claims Kelly gave no verbal warning and had no credible reason to see Cuen-Buitimea as a threat.

However, if Ramirez was not even present, there is nobody to support the prosecution’s version of events. Kelly says that Cuen-Buitimea was part of a group of men dressed in camouflage carrying rifles and backpacks. He maintains that he fired warning shots in the air after one of the men pointed a rifle at him and his wife who were on their porch. Criminologist Dr. Ron Martinelli has suggested that it is probable Cuen-Buitimea was fatally shot by criminals in the area. Ramirez had admitted to previously smuggling drugs across the border, while Cuen-Buitimea had a history of entering the U.S. illegally and had been deported in 2016.

Kelly had called their Border Patrol ranch liaison that day to report the incident, and then again when he claimed to have found Cuen-Buitimea’s body on his property. The jury took a field trip to the Kellys property in order to assess the distances and terrain involved. Kelly’s defense attorney, Brenna Larkin, says that due to the isolation of their ranch and increasing numbers of unknown people crossing through it, the elderly Kellys felt the need to take steps to protect themselves. Kelly has maintained his innocence in Cuen-Buitimea’s death, choosing not to accept an earlier plea deal for the lesser charge of negligent homicide.

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