Prosecutors reconvene after deadlocked jury in trial over Arizona border killing


PHOENIX (AP) — Prosecutors are headed back to court Monday afternoon to announce whether they will retry an Arizona rancher after a jury deadlocked last week over whether or not to convict him in the shooting of a Mexican man on his property.

The jurors in the case against George Alan Kelly were unable to reach a unanimous decision on a verdict after more than two days of deliberation. Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Thomas Fink declared a mistrial on April 22.

After the mistrial, the Santa Cruz County Attorney’s Office has the option to retry Kelly — or to drop the case.

The 75-year-old Kelly had been on trial for nearly a month in Nogales, which is on the border with Mexico. The rancher had been charged with second-degree murder in the Jan. 30, 2023, killing of 48-year-old Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea outside Nogales, Arizona.

Cuen-Buitimea had lived just south of the border in Nogales, Mexico. He was in a group of men that Kelly encountered that day on his cattle ranch. His two adult daughters, along with Mexican consular officials, met with prosecutors last week to learn about the implications of a mistrial.

Prosecutors had said Kelly recklessly fired nine shots from an AK-47 rifle toward a group of men, including Cuen-Buitimea, about 100 yards (90 meters) away on his cattle ranch. Kelly has said he fired warning shots in the air, but argued he didn’t shoot directly at anyone.

The trial coincided with a presidential election year that has drawn widespread interest in border security. During the trial, court officials took jurors to Kelly’s ranch as well as a section of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Earlier, Kelly had rejected an agreement with prosecutors that would have reduced the charge to one count of negligent homicide if he pleaded guilty.

Kelly was also accused of aggravated assault of another person in the group of about eight people.

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