/ Modified apr 22, 2024 9:11 p.m.

Judge declares mistrial in case of rancher accused of killing migrant

The judge declared a mistrial yesterday in the murder trial of rancher George Alan Kelly after a jury could not agree on a verdict.

George Alan Kelly trial George Alan Kelly during opening statements, on March 22, 2024, at trial where he's being charged with second degree murder and aggravated assault.
Angela Gervasi / Nogales International

Judge Thomas Fink asked the jury foreman Monday afternoon if there was any way the eight-person jury could reach a verdict, following the four week trail.

"Is it your opinion as the foreperson that if the court were to provide you with additional time and any other resources or any other materials or evidence that I can, that that would not be a fruitful endeavor and that you would still as a jury be deadlocked and unable to reach a verdict?" Fink said.

"I believe that we would still be deadlocked and not able to reach a verdict, your honor," the foreman said.

Officials recovered the body of 48-year-old Gabriel Cuen Buitimea, a Mexican citizen, on Kelly’s property, which is close to the border in Nogales. Kelly pled not guilty in the shooting death.

The defense says that Kelly saw a group of men on his property with guns and fired over their heads to scare them, making sure not to shoot anyone. Defense attorneys said investigators were biased against Kelly and improperly handled the case and because of that they'll probably never know who killed Cuen Buitimea.

Prosecutors in the case argued that Kelly shot at undocumented migrants Cuen Buitimea and Daniel Ramirez from his porch as they crossed his property, without warning or provocation. Ramirez was a witness in the case.

The court will hold a hearing next week to decide whether there will be a retrial.

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