A 73-year-old Arizona rancher has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder for the killing of an illegal alien who has been tentatively identified as a Mexican citizen.

This photo provided by the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office in Nogales, Arizona, shows rancher George Alan Kelly, 73 (Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Full details about the shooting have not been made available, and it is unknown whether the rancher, George Alan Kelly, and the deceased, Gabriel Cuen-Butimea, 48, knew each other. The killing occurred on Jan. 30, and Kelly’s arrest was preceded by authorities finding the dead body of Cuen-Butimea on Kelly’s cattle ranch. Cuen-Butimea’s was identified from a Mexican voter registration card he carried.

Kelly is being held at the Santa Cruz County Jail in Nogales, Arizona, and his bail was set at $1 million by Justice Emilio Velasquez. Kelly has requested the judge to reduce his bail in order to go back home and take care of his wife.

“She’s there by herself… nobody to take care of her, the livestock or the ranch,” he said, according to Nogales International. “And I’m not going anywhere. I can’t come up with a million dollars,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cuen-Butimea has entered the United States multiple times illegally and was deported repeatedly, according to reports.

The Shooting

The incident happened in the Kino Springs area just outside Nogales, according to Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Gerardo Castillo. A call came in at about 2:40 p.m. Monday, regarding a shooting in the Sagebrush Road area, per Nogales International. There were reports of a commotion at the scene but the deputies found nothing on arrival.

However, around 6:00 p.m., the sheriff’s office received another call about shots fired at the property. This time, deputies found the deceased body of Cuen-Butimea with a visible gunshot wound 100–150 yards from Kelly’s house.

Kelly lived 1.5 miles north of the border with Mexico, roughly three-quarters of a mile southeast of Kino Springs Road. Kelly was arrested because the body was found on his property.

According to the outlet, Kelly requested a reduction in the bond amount but Judge Velasquez said that it would be determined by the County Attorney’s Office. Kelly was cordial with the officers when he was brought to court.

At present, Kelly, who appears to be a self-published fiction writer based on the Nogales International news report, is being held at the Santa Cruz County Jail and is set to appear in court on Wednesday.

Stand Your Ground

A person can fight, and even kill, in order to protect himself or others based on Arizona law.

The state’s Justification statute, which is similar to Florida’s “stand your ground” law, says “a person is justified in threatening or using physical force against another when and to the extent a reasonable person would believe that physical force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful physical force.”

The burden lies on prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not justified in using deadly force during self-defense.

As of December 2022, the number of illegal immigrant encounters along the southern border was at 251,487, a new monthly record, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The earlier record was in May at 241,136 encounters.


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