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 March 8, 2023

AZ rancher who killed illegal immigrant on his property pleads not guilty to murder charge

An Arizona rancher who fatally shot an illegal immigrant on his property has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

George Kelly, 74, was arrested in January after a Mexican migrant was found dead on his property near the southern border.

The rancher's account

"Through his attorney, Brenna Larkin, Kelly has said in court documents that he discharged a rifle on the day Cuen-Buitimea died, but only after a group of armed men threatened him with weapons," The Western Journal reported.

"He said he fired 'warning shots' over the men after an AK-47 rifle was pointed directly at him. Larkin said Kelly was in fear for his safety and that of his wife," he added.

The rancher also claims he heard a gunshot prior to shooting the immigrant though he did not know where it came from, a claim verified by his wife.

The hearing and his release

Kelly was released on a $1 million bond in the weeks following his arrest. He was called to appear on Monday in the hearing with a trial scheduled for Sept. 6.

"Kelly posted a $1 million bond on Feb. 22 after a court appearance in which Judge Emilio Velasquez upheld the bond and converted it from cash to surety," Fox News reported.

"The money was collected through a Christian crowdsourcing site, GiveSendGo, after GoFundMe booted all campaigns for the rancher from its site," it added.

"Prosecutors lowered Kelly’s charge from a single count of first-degree murder, which would have required a finding of premeditated intent to kill and could have led to a death sentence," the New York Post noted.

"Mexico officials have told US prosecutors that they believe Kelly should have faced a first-degree murder charge," it added.

The person fatally shot was Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, a 48-year-old migrant from Nogales, Mexico. Many believe Kelly should be set free while others argue he shot an innocent man. The courts will not have their say as the evidence will soon be provided to determine the outcome of the high-profile case.

Written By:
Dillon Burroughs

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