The case of an elderly Arizona rancher charged with the murder of an undocumented immigrant found dead on his property last month has attracted significant media coverage, but his defense lawyer recently asserted that much of the prevailing narrative is incorrect.
For starters, attorney Breanna Larkin wrote in a court document that George Alan Kelly only grabbed his gun after hearing shots near his home and noticing that one of his horses was running away.
He was then allegedly confronted by a group of men “armed with AK-47 rifles, dressed in khakis and camouflaged clothing and carrying large backpacks.”
Shortly thereafter, the attorney wrote that one of the intruders pointed the firearm in her client’s direction.
Larkin said that when Kelly fired his own weapon it was intended as a “warning” that he was also armed and willing to engage the intruders in order to protect his family and property.
— Judge Napolitano (@Judgenap) February 13, 2023
“As he shot, Mr. Kelly took care to aim well over the heads of the armed group of men,” the lawyer added. “The group then began running into the desert surrounding his home. Once the group had fled, Mr. Kelly walked over to his barn to see if it was safe and secure.”
Kelly then reportedly contacted Border Patrol and authorities searched his property for any intruders but did not find any. When the rancher subsequently performed his own search, Larkin said that he discovered a body.
According to the attorney, the individual had been shot once and had “a radio with him, and he was wearing tactical boots, indicating he was possibly involved in illegal activity.”
The deceased immigrant, identified as Gabriel Guen-Butimea, was discovered on Kelly’s property on Jan. 30 and the rancher was soon arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder. He has since been incarcerated with bond set at $1 million.
He is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing next week.
Although Kelly claims he does not know how the individual was killed, he and his lawyer deny that he was responsible for firing the fatal shot.
“He does not believe that any of his warning shots could have possibly hit the person or caused the death,” Larkin concluded. “All of the shooting that Mr. Kelly did on that date of the incident was in self-defense and justified.”