Arizona rancher accused of killing migrant asks for elimination of $1M bond
The Arizona rancher's attorney argues the man didn't believe any of his warning shots could've caused the death
The lawyer for a rancher in Arizona accused of shooting and killing a migrant on his property is asking for a reduction or elimination of the $1 million bond he's being held on, arguing it isn't necessary.
George Alan Kelly, 73, was charged with first-degree murder in relation to the Jan. 30 death of Mexican national Gabriel Cuen-Butimea.
Authorities are remaining quiet about specific details surrounding the shooting, but Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Deputy Chief Gerardo Castillo told Nogales International that law enforcement authorities were called to Kelly's ranch located in Kino Springs regarding a report of shots fired. Upon arrival, deputies found a deceased Hispanic male around 100 to 150 yards away from Kelly's home, according to the outlet.
Officials took two assault-style rifles from the scene, and it didn't appear that the two men knew each other, according to the report.
ARIZONA RANCHER ACCUSED OF SHOOTING AND KILLING MIGRANT ON HIS RANCH TO REMAIN JAILED ON $1M BOND
In a court filing made on Thursday, Kelly's attorney argues that his bond should either be reduced or eliminated altogether.
According to the filing, Kelly's attorney says that he "saw a group of men moving through the trees around his home" who were "armed with AK-47 rifles, dressed in khakis and camouflaged clothing, and carrying large backpacks."
The "leader" of the alleged armed group saw Kelly and "pointed an AK-47 right at him," the filing states.
"Mr. Kelly, fearing for his life and safety, fired several shots from his rifle, hoping to scare them away from him, his wife, his animals, and his home. As he shot, Mr. Kelly took care to aim well over the heads of the armed group of men," according to Kelly's attorney.
His attorney said that Kelly called the United States Border Patrol Ranch Liaison and reported the incident, telling the official that "he heard a single shot, and that the men he had seen were armed."
His attorney alleges that the liaison "incorrectly" reported that Kelly stated that he couldn't tell if the men "were armed or not," adding that the radio dispatch "correctly reported that armed men had been seen in the area."
Later on Jan. 30, while Kelly was checking on his horse, he found a body laying in the grass, then reported the findings to law enforcement, his attorney states in the filing.
MIGRANT SHOT DEAD BY ARIZONA RANCHER HELD ON $1M FOR MURDER CHARGE WAS DEPORTED SEVERAL TIMES BEFORE: REPORT
Further investigation found that the deceased Mexican national didn't have any firearms or a backpack, Kelly's attorney states, adding that the "cause of death appeared to be a single gun shot wound."
However, Kelly denied to law enforcement that he fired directly at "any person" and "does not believe that any of his warning shots could have possibly hit the person or cause the death," the court document states.
During a court appearance on Feb. 2, Kelly asked how he can speak to his wife.
"My wife is present in the court. May I ask her to make an appointment for an audio-visual conference? I've not been able to talk to her or anyone," Kelly said.
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Kino Springs is around 1.5 miles north of the U.S. - Mexico border.
Cuen-Butimea has a history of illegally attempting to cross the border, with the most recent incident in 2016, the Daily Mail reported.
Fox News' Paul Best contributed to this report.