Ariz. rancher accused of fatally shooting migrant ordered to stand trial

Feb. 25 (UPI) -- A 74-year-old Arizona man accused of shooting and killing a Mexican man who was crossing his 170-acre ranch must stand trial in connection with the incident, a county judge has ordered.

During a preliminary hearing held Friday in Tucson, Santa Cruz County Judge Emilio Velasquez ordered that George Alan Kelly stand trial on one count of second-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault stemming from last month's fatal shooting of Gabriel Cuen Buitimea.


Authorities said Buitimea's body was discovered approximately 120 yards from the location of spent shell casings near Kelly's porch outside of Nogales, Ariz., on Jan. 30.

They said Kelly made a series of calls that day to the U.S. Border Patrol, at one point claiming that a group of men armed with AK-47s was on his property. Prosecutors and witnesses, however, disputed that, claiming the group was completely unarmed.

Kelly was released from custody Wednesday when Velasquez allowed him to post a surety bond, which enables a defendant to use property as collateral for their bond.

"The court does find the these offenses were committed by this defendant," Velasquez said in his ruling.


In court, a man who was traveling with Buitimea when he was shot identified Kelly as the gunman. The man was only identified by the initials D.R.R and wore a mask in court with a hoodie pulled over his head.

Additionally, three Santa Cruz Country detectives testified about the events surrounding the shooting.

Kelly was initially facing charges of first-degree murder but the charges were reduced to second-degree murder.

The officer who arrested Kelly, Jorge Ainza, told the court that Buitimea's autopsy showed that he had been shot in the back of his ribcage.

Kelly is scheduled to be arraigned on March 6.

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