The elderly Arizona rancher accused of killing a Mexican national only fired “warning shots” after a group of men pointed an assault rifle at him and he later discovered the dead man on his property, his defense lawyer claimed.
George Alan Kelly — who is facing first-degree, premeditated murder charges in the shooting death of the Mexican citizen believed to be 48-year-old Gabriel Cuen-Butimea — acted in self-defense when he fired his rifle on Jan. 30, his court-appointed attorney Brenna Larkin said in court filing obtained by Fox News.
Kelly, 78, heard a single gunshot while he was inside his ranch near the border and then saw a group of men dressed in camouflage running through the woods near his home, wrote Larkin, according to the outlet.
“None of them were known to him. He had not given any of them permission to come onto his land,” she said in the filing.
Kelly called the US Border Patrol ranch liaison and then went out onto his porch with his rifle, the court doc stated.
He then found himself staring down the barrel of an AK-47 rifle, his lawyer said.
“The leader of the armed group of men saw Mr. Kelly and pointed an AK-47 right at him,” wrote Larkin. “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.”
The group fled and Border Patrol and Santa Cruz County sheriff deputies responded to Kelly’s ranch. They walked through his property but found no remaining men and left.