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Arizona Rancher Refuses Plea Deal in Killing of Migrant near US-Mexico Border; Court Date Set

On Wednesday, a court in Nogales, Arizona set a trial date of March 21 for a rancher from the state who is charged with killing a migrant on his land near the U.S.-Mexico boundary in the prior year.

George Alan Kelly refused a plea bargain from prosecutors that would have lessened the charges to one count of negligent homicide if he admitted guilt.

It has been anticipated that the trial of Kelly in Santa Cruz County Superior Court will continue for a period of three weeks.

On January 30, 2023, Kelly, age 75, was taken into custody and accused of second-degree murder and aggravated assault in the shooting of 48-year-old Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, a resident of Nogales, Mexico.

Officials reported that Kelly fired shots in the direction of a group of migrants who were on foot through his Kino Springs ranch that spans nearly 170 acres.

Prosecutors allege that Kelly discharged his AK-47 towards the folks who were located about 100 yards away from him in an irresponsible manner.

The attorney of Kelly stated that his client discharged his gun in the air above the individuals, due to the apprehension of his and his partner’s security as well as that of their property.

The remaining migrants who were not hurt were able to flee back to Mexico.

Court documents demonstrate that Cuen-Buitimea made several unlawful entries into the United States, resulting in convictions and deportations, the latest of which occurred in 2016.

The incident has stirred strong feelings as the discussion about border security across the country intensifies in advance of the 2024 presidential election.