Mistrial declared in case of Arizona rancher accused in migrant's shooting death

By Mike Heuer

April 23 (UPI) -- A deadlocked jury on Monday forced a mistrial for Arizona rancher George Alan Kelly, who shot and killed an unarmed migrant on his property in 2023.

Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Thomas Fink declared a mistrial at about 4:30 p.m. MST Monday after a jury couldn't reach a unanimous verdict following 15 hours of deliberation, The Arizona Republic and local media reported.


Fink scheduled a hearing on Monday to determine if the Santa Cruz County Attorney's Office will retry the case.

Santa Cruz County District Attorney George Silva did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment regarding the potential for retrying the case.

After Fink declared the mistrial, Kelly told reporters he won't let county prosecutors "wear me down" if he is retried.

Kelly, 75, was accused of one count of second-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in the shooting death of Gabriel Cuen Buitimea on Jan. 30, 2023.

A second man, Daniel Ramirez, accompanied Buitimea and said the pair were looking for work in the United States. Prosecutors said Kelly placed Ramirez's life in danger, as well.


Buitimea was a migrant from Mexico and was found dead on Kelly's 170-acre ranch near Nogales, Ariz., and about 120 years from Kelly's porch.

Kelly's attorneys said he fired warning shots after making several calls to the U.S. Border Patrol saying a group of men armed with AK-47s were trespassing on his property.

Witnesses and prosecutors said the men were unarmed.

One of Kelly's attorneys, Kathry Lowthorp, told reporters she would represent him if prosecutors decide to retry the case.

Kelly's wife, Wanda, told reporters she spent the past 15 months in suspense and would have to wait a while longer to see if the matter is over.

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