Arizona Judge Dismisses Charges Against Rancher In Migrant Shooting Case

In a definitive legal ruling, Arizona Superior Court Judge Thomas Fink dismissed all charges against George Alan Kelly, a rancher accused of fatally shooting an illegal migrant on his property. The dismissal “with prejudice” means Kelly cannot be retried for the incident, bringing an end to a contentious case.

Judge Fink emphasized the need for closure, stating, “The interests of justice are not served by the dismissal without prejudice for a case that cannot and will not be retried. Harassment of the defendant under these circumstances is not just.”

Kelly was charged on January 30, 2023, with second-degree murder and aggravated assault after the shooting of Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, 48, who was crossing Kelly’s property along the Arizona-Mexico border. Cuen-Buitimea was reportedly part of a group of migrants attempting to evade Border Patrol agents.

State prosecutors claimed Kelly recklessly fired an AK-47, striking Cuen-Buitimea in the back from about 115 yards away. Kelly’s defense argued that he only fired warning shots to protect his property and family.

The case ended in a mistrial on April 22, after jurors could not reach a unanimous decision. Judge Fink then presented prosecutors with the choice to retry the case or drop it.

Prosecutors initially moved to dismiss the charges but requested a dismissal without prejudice, allowing for potential future prosecution if new evidence emerged.

However, Judge Fink rejected this request, stating, “The State’s motion to dismiss without prejudice is denied. In the interests of justice, the case is ordered dismissed with prejudice.”

This ruling concludes Kelly’s legal ordeal and underscores the ongoing debates surrounding property rights and immigration enforcement in border states. The dismissal marks a significant moment for those advocating for the protection of landowners’ rights amidst the complexities of illegal immigration.

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