Was someone else the real killer?

Craig Smith
4 Min Read


SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Ariz. (KGUN) — Attorneys for George Alan Kelly continue to try to convince jurors someone else shot and killed a Mexican national crossing Kelly’s Santa Cruz County ranch.

Kelly’s lawyers are working to build the reasonable doubt that can convince a jury to let Kelly walk free. The fact that a key piece of evidence is missing, helps.

Prosecutors say Kelly stood near his house and fired nine shots towards Gabriel Cuen Buitema and another man as they crossed his ranch. Cuen Buitema was found shot to death more than a hundred yards from Kelly’s house.

Kelly’s attorney’s have questioned Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Deputies about why they did not find the body after Kelly’s first called, saying he had heard a single gunshot and seen men crossing his land carrying guns and backpacks that he assumed were full of drugs.

Deputy Christobal Castaneda was involved in the first search. Kelly’s attorney Brenna Larkin raised doubts about whether someone other than Kelly shot the man after Kelly called law enforcement to his ranch, they searched it for threats, and left.

Brenna Larkin: “Now there’s the question of was this body there when we searched the area and did we just miss it, right? That’s one possibility right?”

Deputy Castaneda: “Potentially.”

Larkin: “Or was this body not there when we searched the area? That’s another possibility.”

Castaneda: “Potentially.“

Larkin: “That’s a question that we have that’s unanswered, correct?”

Castaneda: “Correct:“

Later Kelly told authorities he had found something on his land but was reluctant to tell 911 it was a dead body. When deputies arrived a second time he told them he had no idea who shot the man. Several hours went by before he told deputies he had fired several shots towards the two men but had fired over their heads.

No one found a bullet to compare to Kelly’s AK-47 rifle. The bullet that killed the victim had enough power to go in the man’s back, out the front of his chest, and keep going to be lost in the landscape.

Assistant Pima County Medical Examiner Doctor Krista Timm autopsied the victim for Santa Cruz County. She described how the bullet hit bones, went through a lung and punctured the main artery to the victim’s heart. But under questioning by Kelly’s attorney conceded she could not rule out that Gabriel Cuen Buitema could have been shot by a powerful handgun, instead of George Alan Kelly’s rifle.

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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
Local News , 2024-04-03 02:42:36
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Tags: AK-47,Craig Smith,George Alan Kelly,KGUN9,Mexican,Nogales,Santa Cruz County,murder,rancher

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