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Arizona judges declares mistrial in the case of a rancher accused of fatally shooting a migrant

George Alan Kelly exits the Santa Cruz County Courthouse with defense attorney Kathy Lowthorp after the first day of his trial in Santa Cruz County Superior Court Friday, March 22, 2024 in Nogales, Ariz. (Angela Gervasi/Nogales International, via AP, File) George Alan Kelly exits the Santa Cruz County Courthouse with defense attorney Kathy Lowthorp after the first day of his trial in Santa Cruz County Superior Court Friday, March 22, 2024 in Nogales, Ariz. (Angela Gervasi/Nogales International, via AP, File)
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Phoenix, Ariz. -

An Arizona judge declares a mistrial Monday in the case of a rancher accused of fatally shooting a Mexican man on his property near the U.S.-Mexico border.

George Alan Kelly, 75, was charged with second-degree murder in the Jan. 30, 2023, shooting of Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, 48, who lived just south of the border in Nogales, Mexico.

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

Court officials took jurors to Kelly’s ranch as well as a section of the border. Superior Court Judge Thomas Fink denied news media requests to tag along.

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

Kelly was also charged with aggravated assault that day against another person in the group of about eight people, including a man from Honduras who was living in Mexico and who testified during the trial that he had gone into the U.S. that day seeking work.

The other migrants weren’t injured and they all made it back to Mexico.

Cuen-Buitimea had previously entered the U.S. illegally several times and was deported, most recently in 2016, court records show.

The nearly monthlong trial coincided with a presidential election year that has drawn widespread interest in border security.

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