George Alan Kelly case: A judge declares a mistrial of the trial of the Arizona rancher who is accused of murdering a Mexican immigrant on his property

The decision was made after jurors spent several hours deliberating without reaching a unanimous verdict.

A judge declared a mistrial for George Alan Kelly, an Arizona rancher charged with second-degree murder for fatally shooting an illegal alien on his property in 2023.

The judicial process, which began on April 18, concluded this Monday after jurors deliberated more than 15 hours without reaching a unanimous verdict.

The case centered on the death of Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, a Mexican national found dead from a gunshot wound on Kelly's 170-acre cattle ranch near Keno Springs, outside Nogales, Arizona, on January 30, 2023.

During the trial, the prosecution led by the Santa Cruz County Prosecutor's Office argued that Kelly, armed with an AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifle, opened fire on two unarmed men.

"Gabriel and Daniel [Ramírez] were shot at. Gabriel is dead, killed by a high-powered weapon, an AK-47. Entry wound, exit wound lined up with the defendant's property (…) Defendant shot his AK nine times. Shell casings prove it. Ejection pattern proves where he was standing. Position and orientation of Gabriel's body proves where the shot comes from," Prosecutor Mike Jette said.

However, Kelly's defense explained that the rancher shot into the air as a warning to a group of immigrants armed with rifles, who were approaching his property, located in a place where "rip crews" operate. It is known for activities such as robbery, drug trafficking and violence. In fact, during the trial, Daniel Ramírez himself testified that in the past, he transported drugs across the border.

"This is simply not somebody who's looking for the American dream (...) When people are involved in a criminal lifestyle, it's dangerous. It's more inherently dangerous than simply being a migrant who's coming here," said Brenna Larkin, Kelly's defense lawyer, during her closing arguments.

After hearing all the testimony and examining the evidence, the jury could not agree on Kelly's guilt. However, prosecutors left open the possibility of considering lesser charges of involuntary manslaughter or negligent homicide.

The Santa Cruz County Prosecutor's Office could decide to retry him. For this purpose, a hearing is scheduled for next Monday, April 29, in which prosecutors will be able to inform the judge if they plan to re-present the case.