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No ruling reached Monday on dropping charges against rancher George Alan Kelly

Posted at 2:54 PM, Jun 03, 2024

NOGALES, Ariz. - Rancher George Alan Kelly will have to wait longer to learn if the second-degree murder charges against him will be dropped.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Fink will rule later on arguments made in court Monday.

Kelly was charged with the shooting death of a Mexican National crossing his ranch.

He admitted firing warning shots but denied hitting and killing Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea.

After Monday's hearing Kelly said he wants to be free of the case but knows he’ll have to be patient.

When a reporter asked him what he would say to the family of the man who died on his ranch. He said he remembered when he lost his father.

“It surely hurt and they want some type of relief. I’m sorry, I can’t give it to them because I’m not responsible for their father’s, husband’s death. That’s all there is to it. But I still have sympathy for them.”

A bullet was never recovered for investigators to try to match to Kelly’s rifle. His attorneys suggested someone else, possibly a smuggler, fired the shot that killed the man.

Last month, a jury could not agree on a verdict for Kelly. The mistrial gives prosecutors the option to try the case again. For now, they have asked for the judge in the case to dismiss the charges, but dismiss them without prejudice.

That’s a legal term that allows prosecutors to refile the case if circumstances change, leading them to believe a new trial might yield a conviction.

Kelly’s defense attorney is arguing to dismiss the case with prejudice.That would forbid the state from filing the case again.

Prosecutors argued they might be able to find new witnesses or even find new evidence in statements Kelly makes to the media.

Kelly’s defense argued that as Kelly and his wife grow older they will be less able to remember events and defend against a new prosecution.

Judge Fink did not mention a timeline on when he might rule.

Craig Smith is a reporter for KGUN 9. With more than 40 years of reporting in cities like Tampa, Houston and Austin, Craig has covered more than 40 Space Shuttle launches and covered historic hurricanes like Katrina, Ivan, Andrew and Hugo. Share your story ideas and important issues with Craig by emailing or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.