KGUN 9NewsBorder Watch


MISTRIAL: Jury does not reach verdict in George Alan Kelly trial

Posted: 4:34 PM, Apr 22, 2024
Updated: 2024-04-23 01:54:23-04

NOGALES, Ariz. (KGUN) — A jury has been unable to agree on whether a Santa Cruz County rancher is guilty or not guilty in the shooting death of a Mexican National Crossing his ranch so Judge Thomas Fink has declared a mistrial in the case.

It will be up to the Santa Cruz County Attorney to decide if George Alan Kelly will face a new trial in the case.

The Santa Cruz County rancher is accused of killing an unarmed migrant on his property. The jury began deliberating mid-afternoon Thursday after about four weeks of testimony.

On Friday, the jury reported to the court that they had reached an impasse, but Superior Court Judge Thomas Fink said that more deliberation was needed.

A second impasse was reached earlier today, and the jury was asked, for a second time, to keep deliberating.

At the conclusion of the day, Judge Fink accepted the jury's impasse and declared a mistrial.

Mistrial declared in George Alan Kelly trial

The case against George Alan Kelly has not had the sort of slam dunk evidence that makes for an easy conviction.

There was never a bullet recovered to use in a ballistics test to see if it would match to Kelly’s rifle. The bullet the killed Gabriel Cuen Buitema went in his lower back, went out his chest and kept going.

Kelly’s attorneys have suggested Kelly’s bullet was not the one that killed the man, that instead border bandits shot and killed him to steal money and drugs.

Kelly said he heard a shot, grabbed his AK-47 and fired warning shots in the direction of a group of trespassers crossing his ranch. Investigators testified he gave conflicting stories through the day about how many intruders, and whether or not they had guns.

A detective testified Kelly didn’t even concede he fired his gun until a half hour into a formal interrogation. Kelly’s attorneys say early on, he told a Border Patrol Agent he was being shot at and was shooting back, and assumed the agent told other investigators.

None of the charges against Kelly claim he deliberately killed the victim. Jurors have been asked to choose among Second Degree Murder, and lesser charges of Manslaugter or Negligent Homicide. All require jurors to decide if Kelly fired recklessly or with negligence and a man died as a result.

Before the trial began, Kelly rejected a deal that would have allowed him to plead guilty to negligent homicide. That would have carried a maximum of three years in prison. The second degree murder charge he was tried for carries a sentence between 10 and 25 years. Jurors also had the option to convict on less serious charges.

Post-trial responses from Kelly, Mexican Consul General in Nogales Marcos Moreno Baez and Kelly defense attorney Kathy Lowthorp: