On Wednesday, prosecutors disclosed that the Mexican national whose death led to the murder allegation against Arizona rancher George Alan Kelly was in a group of eight individuals on the day of the shooting.
Kimberly Hunley, chief deputy attorney for Santa Cruz County, told the Associated Press that no one in the group was armed.
The group “posed no threat to him or family,” she said, alleging Kelly “shot at them repeatedly with an AK-47, striking and killing one of them.”
“Mr. Kelly shot an unarmed man in the back in an unprovoked attack as he ran for his life. There was no warning, and the victim was more than 100 yards from the defendant’s residence when he was shot and killed,” she said, according to the Arizona Republic.
She stated that two additional persons who were fired at had come forward, prompting the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office to revise the case against Kelly to include two charges of aggravated assault in addition to the first-degree murder allegation.
On January 30th, Kelly is suspected of murdering Gabriel Cuen-Butimea of Mexico. According to AP, Cuen-Butimea had been deported to Mexico many times, most recently in 2016.
Kelly has been incarcerated since his arrest on a $1 million bail. On Wednesday, Justice of the Peace Emilio G. Velasquez maintained the same sum, but modified the terms to a surety bond. According to the AP, this would allow Kelly to post his property as bail in order to be released from jail.
According to Fox News, at Wednesday’s hearing, Kelly’s attorney Brenna Larkin stated that the case against Kelly has been a procedural farce.
“There was a huge divergence in how investigation and prosecution should happen and how it did happen in this case,” she said.
“The Alec Baldwin case comes to mind of a case where an incident occurred, there was a shooting, there was an investigation and following the lengthy investigation, then there were criminal charges. That’s an example of how a criminal case should be handled. This case was not handled in that manner, Your Honor. This case was charged first and investigated later,” she said.
She claimed authorities “lit a match over a very intense political powder keg” by arresting Kelly before all the facts were in and “predictably, there was an explosion.”
She said testimony of the two alleged witnesses is meaningless because the case has been “compromised by publicity.”
“There’s a very large incentive structure for people to come forward and to have claimed to have been witnesses. People can possibly obtain immigration benefits for doing so, or at least have the expectation of that, and people can succumb to pressure from traffickers who have an interest in blaming this event on Mr. Kelly,” Larkin said.
Larkin stated that drug dealers desire Kelly’s conviction.
“Testimony is something that is bought and sold by drug traffickers the same way that drugs and people are bought and sold. It is a valuable commodity, and it is used by these traffickers to obtain what they want,” she said.
“In this case, the benefit they’re getting is security for their smuggling route through Mr. Kelly’s property, and they’re sending a message to anybody else defending his or her own property that if you defend your property against us, you will be arrested, and there will be witnesses who come to stand against you,” she said.
According to the Arizona Republic, Kelly contends that he fired warning bullets at a group of guys holding AK-47s and wearing khakis and camouflage on his property on January 30. According to Kelly, this led to the guys scattering.
Kelly subsequently discovered Cuen-body, Butimea’s he has stated.