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Jurors to visit George Alan Kelly property in rancher’s murder trial

Media excluded from ranch tour
Posted at 12:53 PM, Apr 08, 2024

NOGALES, Ariz. (KGUN) — Jurors will visit George Alan Kelly’s ranch in his trial for second degree murder. He’s accused of shooting and killing a Mexican National crossing his property.

Multiple media outlets, including KGUN 9 requested the chance to take video of the visit.

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The judge in the case rejected ranch access but did approve a compromise to allow video related to the ranch visit.

Usually we try to be observers, not participants, in the stories we cover. But in the Kelly case, we ended up speaking in court about media access to an important event in the trial.

George Alan Kelly’s ranch is practically a character in the case.

There’s been a lot of testimony about what he could see and hear from his house, testimony about the distance from the house to where the victim was found, even testimony about how his horse behaved as people crossed Kelly's ranch and Kelly fired nine shots from his rifle.

Attorneys for both sides asked Judge Thomas Fink to allow jurors to see the ranch for themselves.

The issue in Monday’s hearing was whether media could get pictures and video of the ranch visit.

Judge Fink ruled it would be too hard to be sure jurors would not be shown on camera. That’s forbidden in Arizona. It’s seen as a threat to the jurors safety.

Judge Fink also says he can’t bring media crews onto Kelly’s private property.

The judge says he recognizes the high interest in the case and has allowed camera access as long as it does not show jurors; so in this case he will allow video of the jurors' van leaving the court complex as long as no jurors are on camera.

The ranch visit is tentatively set for Thursday afternoon.

Kelly is charged with second degree murder in the death of Gabriel Cuen Buitema.

GEORGE ALAN KELLY TRIAL

The rancher says he heard a shot, saw what he took to be smugglers crossing his property and fired warning shots.
The second degree murder charge is for cases where someone is accused of murder without pre-meditation, or doing something so indifferent to human life that a person was killed.

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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 craig.smith@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.