The migrant shot dead by an Arizona rancher on his land last month was likely a cartel drug smuggler or scout, according to a former Border Patrol chief, who says the area is known for ‘violence’.
George Alan Kelly, 73, was arrested on charges of first degree murder for shooting Gabriel Cuen-Butimea on January 30 at his home. That charge has now been downgraded to a second degree murder charge.
He denies the murder, insisting he only ever fired warning shots when he saw what he perceived to be a gang of cartel smugglers on his land.
Former Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott, who was previously a supervisor in the area, told NewsNation that the area has a ‘propensity for violence’.
‘Everything that I have seen, my professional experience would tell me that that guy was either a scout or an actual guide for a group.
‘With the radio, [it’s] much more likely he was actually scouting out in advance, or the front-man, but that type of activity and behavior doesn’t take place out there unless it’s part of the cartel,’ he said.
He added: ‘That has been a tough area to work for many, many years. The cartel operation in that area has had a propensity for violence.
‘A good friend of mine was actually pinned down by automatic weapons fire for 20 minutes while the cartel came, recovered the narcotics they were trying to smuggle in.’
Today, the first degree charge against Kelly was dramatically downgraded to second degree murder amid growing questions surrounding the case, and after well-wishers raised enough money for Kelly to meet his $1million bail.
Kelly – who has no criminal history – told called Border Patrol on January 30 at 2.30pm to report a group of Mexican men running through his land.
He said he was being ‘shot at’ and fired his own warning shots but was careful not to shoot any of the men directly.
At an evidentiary hearing, Kelly’s Brenna Larkin grilled the detective who questioned Kelly after his arrest.
She suggested it was entirely possible that a rival cartel could have shot Cuen-Butimea – not Kelly – but that cops tried to get him to admit to it anyway.
The detective had testified that he found an AK-47 shell casing on Kelly’s porch.
‘Isn’t the AK47 is most common rifle carried by drug smugglers?’ Larkin asked.
She argued the investigation was biased from the beginning.
Prosecutors called one to the stand a Mexican man who claims he was with Cuen-Butimea on the day he was shot.
Answering questions with the help of a translator, the man – going only by his initials – claims he works ‘in the fields’.
He admitted illegally crossing into the US ‘six or seven times’, and said he was caught by border patrol agents ‘every time’.
The detective admitted that Kelly had called Border Patrol liaisons in the past begging for help, and that sheriffs always took too long to respond.
Had he killed all eight illegal aliens that would have worked for me. Put me on the jury. NOT GUILTY
He was under an INVASION. He has the rt to protect his family an his property. Be honest!!!! These people are in a war down there. Need to fire the judges an AGs an put them on Trial.