A migrant, who was allegedly shot and killed by an elderly Arizona rancher whom a judge ordered held on $1 million bail despite pleas that his wife is left alone on their property near the U.S.-Mexico border, had been deported several times before the deadly encounter, according to records obtained by the Daily Mail.

George Alan Kelly, 73, was charged with first-degree murder in connection to the shooting of a man authorities believe to be 48-year-old Gabriel Cuen-Butimea, based on the Mexican voter registration card he carried. The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office in Nogales, Arizona, said Cuen-Butimea’s body was found with one gunshot wound about 100 to 150 yards from Kelly’s home on Jan. 30. 

The sheriff’s office confirmed Monday that Kelly had been arrested last week. 

The shooting reportedly happened on Kelly’s Vermilion Mountain Ranch in Kino Springs. 


George Alan Kelly mugshot

Arizona rancher George Alan Kelly, 73, is seen in mugshot provided by the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office. (Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office via AP)

According to Nogales International, Kelly pleaded with a judge to reduce his $1 million bail because his wife is now left to fend for herself on the cattle ranch they share. The judge declined Kelly's request. 

"She's there by herself," Kelly reportedly said at a court hearing. "Nobody to take care of her, the livestock or the ranch. And I'm not going anywhere. I can't come up with a million dollars." 

"Federal court records show Cuen-Butimea has had a history of illegal border crossings and deportations in and around Nogales, with the most recent documented case in 2016," the Daily Mail reported. Fox News Digital reached out to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office Thursday to confirm those records, but did not immediately hear back before publication. 

The Mail reported that Santa Cruz Chief Deputy Gerardo Castillo declined to comment on Cuen-Butimea’s immigration status, claiming that it has not yet been confirmed. 

Border wall Nogales

The U.S.-Mexico border fence stretches into the countryside near Nogales, Arizona, on March 8, 2013. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Castillo reportedly said investigators are still working to confirm the circumstances of the shooting as well as a potential motive, adding that it does not appear Kelly knew the victim. 

Citing a dispatch report, Nogales International reported that the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office first received a call about 2:40 p.m. Jan. 30 from U.S. Border Patrol agents relaying details of a "possible active shooter" in the area of Sagebrush Road. Border Patrol said someone at the scene, identified as "Allen," described a "group of people running" and said he was "unsure if he was getting shot at as well." 

Border patrol ride horses near Nogales

Border Patrol said a caller from George Kelly's ranch reported seeing a group of people running and did not know if he was being shot at hours before a migrant was found dead. (John Moore/Getty Images)

By about 5:50 p.m., sheriff’s deputies received another report about shots fired at the property. By 6:42 p.m., authorities recovered the body of a "deceased Hispanic male" and said he had no weapons on him at the time, Castillo told the outlet. Investigators reportedly collected two assault-style rifles from Kelly's property to determine if either was used in the shooting. 

Kelly’s neighbor, Maria Castillo, told KOLD News 13 that it is not usual to see migrants crossing the border and entering town. Cuen-Butimea lived just south of the border in Nogales, Mexico. 


Kelly, who remained held at Santa Cruz County Jail ahead of a Wednesday court appearance, reportedly doubles as a self-published fiction author writing about ranch life in the border region. One book available as an Amazon e-book is titled "Far Beyond the Border Fence" and is described as "bringing the Mexican border/drug conflict into the 21st century," according to the Mail. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.