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Published on April 24, 2024
Arizona Rancher's Trial for Fatal Shooting Near U.S.-Mexico Border Ends in MistrialSource: Google Street View

An Arizona rancher charged with second-degree murder for the fatal shooting of a Mexican man near the U.S.-Mexico border has hit a legal snag, as his trial ended in mistrial. After more than 15 hours of deliberation, jurors couldn't reach an agreement, leading Superior Court Judge Thomas Fink to declare a mistrial in the case against George Alan Kelly, as reported by 12 News and CBS News.

Kelly, 75, stood accused of recklessly firing nine shots from an AK-47 rifle at a group of migrants, resulting in the death of 48-year-old Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea in January 2023. While his defense argued the shots were "warning shots" fired in self-defense, the jury could not unanimously agree on whether this constituted second-degree murder. Convicted, Kelly faced a minimum of 10 years imprisonment.

With a mistrial declared, the Santa Cruz County Attorney's Office is now weighing its options, which include possibly refiling the murder charge or dropping the case altogether. They have scheduled a meeting on Monday, April 29, to discuss their decision, according to 12 News.

Marcos Moreno Baez, Consul General of the Mexican consulate in Nogales, Arizona, expressed an intention to "continue following the case" and to "accompany the family, which wants justice," in a statement obtained by CBS News. Moreno Baez added, "We hope for a very fair outcome." Living just south of the border in Nogales, Mexico, Cuen-Buitimea reportedly had a history of unauthorized entries into the U.S., with the most recent deportation occurring in 2016.

Kelly's defense attorney, Brenna Larkin, who had asked the judge to allow one more day of jury deliberation, did not immediately respond for comment after the mistrial was declared. The case has drawn widespread interest due to its timing during a presidential election year, where border security remained a hot-button issue. The outcome of this high-profile case remains uncertain as both sides prepare for the next steps following Monday's status hearing.