Arizona Rancher Cleared Of Charges In Migrant Shooting Case

Arizona rancher George Alan Kelly, who faced charges related to the fatal shooting of an illegal migrant on his property, will not be retried. This conclusion follows a decision by Arizona Superior Court Judge Thomas Fink, who dismissed the murder and assault charges against Kelly “with prejudice,” ensuring that the case cannot be reopened.

Judge Fink emphasized the need for finality in his ruling: “The interests of justice are not served by a dismissal without prejudice for a case that cannot and will not be retried. Harassment of the defendant under these circumstances is not just.”

Kelly was originally charged on January 30, 2023, for second-degree murder and aggravated assault following the shooting of Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, 48, an unarmed Mexican national who was crossing Kelly’s property near the Arizona-Mexico border.

Cuen-Buitimea, part of a group of migrants, was reportedly attempting to evade Border Patrol agents when he entered Kelly’s ranch. Prosecutors argued that Kelly recklessly fired an AK-47 from approximately 115 yards, allegedly striking Cuen-Buitimea in the back. Kelly’s defense maintained that he only fired warning shots to protect his property and wife.

The trial ended in a mistrial on April 22, as jurors could not reach a unanimous verdict after more than two days of deliberations. Judge Fink then offered prosecutors the options of retrying the case or dropping it. Prosecutors initially chose to drop the charges but requested a dismissal without prejudice, allowing for the possibility of reopening the case if new evidence emerged.

However, Judge Fink decided against this, stating, “The State’s motion to dismiss without prejudice is denied. In the interests of justice, the case is ordered dismissed with prejudice.”

Kelly’s case has drawn significant attention, highlighting issues of property rights and border security along the southern U.S. border. The dismissal with prejudice marks the end of a prolonged legal ordeal for Kelly, affirming that he will not face further charges related to the incident.