Rancher’s murder trial: Border crosser describes shooting

Craig Smith
4 Min Read

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Ariz. (KGUN) — The man who says he was next to a shooting victim when the man was hit, testified Wednesday in the murder trial of Santa Cruz County rancher George Alan Kelly.

The man who was killed was just over a hundred yards away from where George Alan Kelly stood and fired his rifle. Jurors heard from the man who says he was right next to the victim as a bullet hit.

Speaking through a translator Daniel Ramirez conceded he’s illegally crossed into the U.S. eight or nine times but he’s always been caught and deported. He admitted at least once he’s carried marijuana to help reduce the $2500 he normally pays the human smugglers.

He says on January 30th of last year he came through a gap in the border fence with a group that included Gabriel Cuen Buitimea. He says when they saw Border Patrol Agents they turned and ran back towards Mexico.

He told prosecutor Michael Jette they paused to rest a moment and heard eight or nine shots.

He says he heard Cuen Buitimea call out, “‘I’ve been hit.”

Jette: “Did he do anything like show you where he was hit or what happened?”

Ramirez (through translator) “He just grabbed his chest and went like that (clutched his chest) and said, ‘I’m hit.’”

Ramirez says he ran towards Mexico and didn’t stop until he was on the other side of the border fence.

Investigators never recovered a slug to match to Kelly’s AK-47.

The powerful bullet went into Cuen Buitimea’s back and went out through his chest.. It was lost in the landscape.

Kelly defense attorney Brenna Larkin asked whether Ramirez ever saw the two way radio found on the man’s body. It’s the same sort of radio smugglers use to coordinate their operations and warn each other when they see Border Patrol. Ramirez says he never saw the radio and that Cuen Buitimea was simply being smuggled just as he was.

Craig Smith is a reporter for KGUN 9. With more than 40 years of reporting in cities like Tampa, Houston and Austin, Craig has covered more than 40 Space Shuttle launches and covered historic hurricanes like Katrina, Ivan, Andrew and Hugo. Share your story ideas and important issues with Craig by emailing [email protected] or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.

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Craig Smith , www.kgun9.com
Santa Cruz County News , 2024-03-28 02:24:13
Tags: Gabriel Cuen Buitimea,George Alan Kelly,Santa Cruz County,border,murder,rancher

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