Arizona Rancher Faces Trial for Shooting Migrant on Mexico Border

Phoenix, Arizona – A trial is set to begin for an Arizona rancher accused of fatally shooting a migrant on his property near the Mexico border. The case comes amidst a national discussion on border security as the upcoming presidential election draws near.

George Alan Kelly, 75, faces charges of second-degree murder in the death of a man he encountered on his ranch outside Nogales, Arizona. The trial, taking place in Santa Cruz County Superior Court, is expected to last approximately a month. Kelly had previously turned down a plea deal that would have reduced the charge to negligent homicide in exchange for a guilty plea.

The incident occurred on January 30, 2023, when Kelly allegedly shot at a group of unarmed migrants walking through his cattle ranch in the Kino Springs area. Authorities state that Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, a 48-year-old man from Nogales, Mexico, who was part of the group, was killed in the shooting.

According to prosecutors, Kelly recklessly fired an AK-47 rifle in the direction of the migrants, who were roughly 100 yards away from him. Kelly’s defense attorney argues that he shot into the air above the migrants out of fear for his safety, his wife’s safety, and the security of the property. Fortunately, the other migrants were unharmed and were able to return to Mexico safely.

Court records reveal that Cuen-Buitimea had crossed into the U.S. illegally multiple times and had been deported following convictions, with the most recent deportation occurring in 2016. The Mexican consulate in Nogales, Arizona, has been in contact with the victim’s family, closely monitoring the case.

The shooting has reignited debates on border security, particularly following a similar incident in West Texas involving twin brothers charged with manslaughter in the shooting of migrants. The political climate around border security has intensified, with both Republican Donald Trump and Democratic President Joe Biden making visits to the Texas-Mexico border in late February.