AZ Rancher is Held on $1 Million Bond for Allegedly Killing Illegal on His Property

David Gilder /
David Gilder /

When someone is trespassing on your property, could be a threat or a danger to your life or your livelihood, would you defend yourself?

According to police reports coming from Arizona, that is exactly what 73-year-old rancher George Alan Kelly recently did. And for that, he’s been held in jail on a $1 million bond and facing a first-degree murder charge.

As the Associated Press reported on, Kelly was arrested and charged last week after a body was found on his property on January 30. The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office in Nogales, Arizona, says that they responded to a “possible active shooter” situation at 2:40 p.m. on the day in question in Kino Springs at a location listed as being owned by Kelly and his cattle ranch.

The site sits about a mile and a half north of the Mexican border.

According to the report, there was a “group of people running,” supposedly because someone was shooting in the area. And the person, supposedly an “Allen,” said he thought he might be being shot at as well.

When deputies arrived on the scene, they found nothing: no people, no bodies, no guns, no bullets. However, after receiving another similar report around 6 p.m. that same evening, deputies came across a body lying about 100 to 150 yards from Kelly’s home.

It was reported that the deceased was Mexican native Gabriel Cuen-Butimea of Nogales, Mexico, according to a Mexican voter registration card found on the body. According to the UK’s Daily Mail, Cuen-Butimea was a multiple-time offender when it came to crossing the southern US border illegally. In fact, according to US border records, he had already been caught and deported a number of times, with the last one on record being in 2016.

But here, the 48-year-old criminal lay, across the border, illegally, again.

Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Gerardo Castillo noted that it seems highly unlikely that Kelly and Cuen-Butimea knew each other. Instead, it simply seems most likely that the deceased, and possibly others, was found trespassing on Kelly’s land. Being an aging man with a home, wife, and livestock to defend, he did what most of us would: fired off a few rounds in the hopes of keeping his own safe.

It is unknown whether he was specifically aiming at the trespassers or just shooting in their general direction. Hell, the weapon Kelly supposedly fired and hit Cuen-Butimea with is still unknown.

But because an investigation “initially revealed that he (Kelly) had shot in the area,” it was he who was arrested.

Now, maybe it’s just because I’ve watched a few too many crime-based TV shows, but isn’t this circumstantial evidence at best?

I mean, sure, the man was found dead on Kelly’s property. But they don’t have a murder weapon. They don’t have a confession. And nothing points to the deceased and Kelly knowing each other.

So how could it be first-degree murder?

Besides, Arizona has laws that expressly allow homeowners to defend their “castle” or self when directly threatened. These allowances permit using physical and even deadly force when reasonable and immediately necessary to prevent several serious crimes, including burglary, under ARS 31-411.

Seeing as how the body was found a mere 100 yards or so from Kelly’s house, I think it’s more than reasonable that the rancher and his wife could have felt directly threatened by this illegal’s presence on their property. I know I would.

But apparently, the Justice of the Peace presiding over the case doesn’t exactly feel the same. As Nogales International reported, Kelly begged for a lesser and more reasonable bond to be posted when he was brought in before Justice of the Peace Emilio Velasquez. After all, he has an equally aging wife at home, now alone and with livestock to tend to, neither of which she can do well on her own anymore.

But his request was denied.

Multiple social media users have pointed out that if Biden had just secured our southern border as he promised, none of this would be happening. And now, this 73-year-old man is paying the price.