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Judge declares mistrial for AZ rancher charged with murder of Mexican national near southern border

George Alan Kelly was accused of second-degree murder for the death of a Mexican national named Gabriel Cuen-Baltimea, who was found fatally shot on Kelly’s ranch on Jan. 30, 2023. 

Published: April 22, 2024 9:26pm

Updated: April 22, 2024 10:07pm

A judge has declared a mistrial in Arizona on Monday, after a jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict, in a case where a rancher allegedly killed a Mexican national on his property.

George Alan Kelly was accused of second-degree murder for the death of Gabriel Cuen-Baltimea, who was found fatally shot on Kelly’s ranch near the southern border on Jan. 30, 2023. 

The judge overseeing the case declared the mistrial after the jury could not reach a decision after several days. The prosecutor told jurors that if they did not believe there was enough evidence to convict Kelly on the second-degree murder charge, they could convict him on a lower charge of manslaughter, aggravated assault, and negligent homicide, according to Fox News.

The jury had begun deliberating last week, on April 18.

Law enforcement officials testified that Cuen-Baltimea was part of a group of migrants who had come into the United States illegally, and that he and another migrant were on their way back to the Mexican side of the border when the incident occurred, and the pair entered Kelly's ranch.

Prosecutors argued that Kelly had been inconsistent in his reports on the shooting, and that both men were not armed. Kelly has been charged with aggravated assault against the other migrant, named Daniel Ramirez. Ramirez has testified that he and Kelly were smuggled into the country, but that no drugs were trafficked.

Kelly's defense team claimed their client only fired warning shots above both migrants' heads, and that he was defending himself and his wife at the time of the shooting. Kelly and his wife also claimed they spotted two migrants who were dressed in camouflage and carrying rifles and backpacks 100 yards from their home. But authorities claim that Cuen-Baltimea was unarmed, and no other gun was found. However, the bullet that killed Cuen-Baltimea was also never recovered.

"When you see two unarmed migrants walking southbound beyond two fence lines and you take your AK-47, you walk out and don't say a word, point it at them and you shoot, would that be what a reasonable person would do in that situation?" prosecutor Mike Jette asked the jury during his closing arguments on Thursday, ABC News reported. "The answer has to be no."

Kelly has maintained his innocence ever since he was charged last year, and even rejected a plea deal that would have reduced the charges to one count of negligent homicide in exchange for pleading guilty. 

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