State prosecutors won't retry 75-year-old Arizona rancher accused of fatally shooting unarmed migrant

The defense has requested to dismiss the case with prejudice.

April 29, 2024, 6:00 PM

State prosecutors said Monday they will not seek to retry 75-year-old George Alan Kelly, the Arizona rancher accused of fatally shooting an unarmed migrant on his property near the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Because of the unique circumstances and challenges surrounding this case, the Santa County Attorney’s office has decided not to seek a retrial,” said Deputy County Attorney Kimberly Hunley at a status hearing.

As prosecutors made their announcement, Kelly could be seen hanging his head and appeared to be overcome with emotion.

Another hearing will be set to consider the defense’s request to dismiss the case with prejudice.

Last Monday, a judge declared a mistrial in the case after jurors were unable to reach consensus about whether to charge Kelly with second-degree murder and aggravated assault. He had pleaded not guilty.

Kelly was accused of shooting his AK-47 from a far distance at a group of migrants who were headed back across the border into Mexico. Prosecutors said Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, 48, a migrant who lived just across the border in Nogales, Mexico, and was looking for work, was fatally struck. Law enforcement officials were never able to recover the bullet, and Kelly’s lawyers tried to make the point that another person may have shot him. No other weapon was discovered in the area.

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