Elderly Arizona Rancher Pleads Not Guilty To Shooting Illegal Immigrant Trespassing On His Property

An elderly Arizona rancher accused of shooting and killing an illegal immigrant from Mexico trespassing on his property has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder.

George Alan Kelly, 74, was initially charged with first-degree murder after allegedly fatally shooting an illegal immigrant believed to be 48-year-old Gabriel Cuen-Butimea, Fox News reported. The migrant had been deported multiple times before he was killed, The Daily Mail reported, most recently in 2016.

A judge late last month announced that the murder charge would be reduced to second-degree. On Monday, Kelly pleaded not guilty during his arraignment, the New York Post reported.

Judge Thomas Fink set Kelly’s trial date for September 6, even though Kelly’s attorney, Brenna Larkin, requested a two-month continuance to interview her own experts. She also cited an additional search warrant recently executed at Kelly’s property.

Larkin told The Daily Wire that she couldn’t comment on the case to the media but did say, “we cannot try this case in the press, or in any place that is outside of the courtroom,” and that the defense is “confident that Mr. Kelly is an innocent man, based on his long history of law-abiding behavior, and based on the uncontroverted facts of this case.”

Kelly was released from prison on February 24 on a $1 million bond. His defense alleges that he only fired warning shots from his firearms into the air and not at any individuals, the New York Post reported. Kelly reportedly told this to investigators, saying he found Cuen-Butimea’s body on his property hours later while checking on his horse, claiming he saw men with AK-47s on the property.

Larkin said in court on February 22 that her client is being framed by human traffickers interested in “securing their route” through Kelly’s property and aiming to use his case as a warning to others who may wish to challenge them.

“Absolutely the least likely thing that happened in this case is that Mr. Kelly randomly decided to … start shooting at random people,” Larkin argued in court, saying there was a “large incentive” for witnesses to come forward and lie after “succumbing to pressure from traffickers.”


Kelly’s arrest comes as illegal border crossings continue to increase, with an estimated 5.5 million migrants crossing during the Biden administration so far, according to data from the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

Critics like New York Post columnist Miranda Devine pointed to the Biden administration’s failed attempts to secure the border.

“Government abandons the border, leaving elderly rancher and sick wife stuck in a lawless badlands run by cartels,” she tweeted, referring to Kelly. “So he uses his legal gun to protect himself from trespassers of unknown intent and now is in jail on $1m bail while his wife is home alone.”

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