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Jurors don't have a verdict yet in an Arizona rancher's trial for fatally shooting a migrant

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Jurors don't have a verdict yet in an Arizona rancher's trial for fatally shooting a migrant
News

News

Jurors don't have a verdict yet in an Arizona rancher's trial for fatally shooting a migrant

2024-04-20 08:27 Last Updated At:08:30

PHOENIX (AP) — A jury in southern Arizona is still deliberating in the trial of a rancher charged with fatally shooting an unarmed migrant on his property near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Judge Thomas Fink sent jurors home for the weekend after they failed to reach a verdict Friday. They will resume deliberations in court Monday morning.

The jury got the case Thursday afternoon after a nearly one-month trial in a presidential election year that has drawn widespread interest in border security. George Alan Kelly, 75, is charged with second-degree murder in the January 30, 2023, shooting of Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea.

Cuen-Buitimea, 48, lived just south of the border in Nogales, Mexico. Court records show Cuen-Buitimea had previously entered the U.S. illegally several times and was deported, most recently in 2016.

Some on the political right have supported the rancher as anti-migrant rhetoric and presidential campaigning heat up.

Prosecutor Mike Jette said Kelly recklessly fired nine shots from an AK-47 rifle toward a group of men, including Cuen-Buitimea, about 100 yards (90 meters) away on his property.

Kelly said he fired warning shots in the air, but he didn’t shoot directly at anyone.

Jette said Cuen-Buitimea suffered three broken ribs and a severed aorta. His unarmed body was found 115 yards (105 meters) away from Kelly's ranch house.

Although investigators found nine spent bullet casings from Kelly's AK-47 on the home's patio, the bullet that killed Cuen-Buitimea was never recovered.

Jette encouraged jurors to find Kelly guilty of reckless manslaughter or negligent homicide if they can’t convict him on the murder charge. A second-degree murder conviction would bring a minimum prison sentence of 10 years.

Jette, a Santa Cruz deputy county attorney, pointed out contradictions in Kelly's early statements to law enforcement, saying variously that he had seen five or 15 men on the ranch. According to testimony during the trial, Kelly also first told Border Patrol agents that the migrants were too far away for him to see if they had guns, but later told a county sheriff's detective that the men were running with firearms.

Defense attorney Brenna Larkin urged jurors to find Kelly not guilty, saying in her closing argument that Kelly “was in a life or death situation.”

“He was confronted with a threat right outside his home,” Larkin said. “He would have been absolutely justified to use deadly force, but he did not."

No one else in the group was injured, and they all made it back to Mexico.

Kelly's wife, Wanda, testified that the day of the shooting she had seen two men with rifles and backpacks pass by the ranch house. But her husband reported hearing a gunshot, and she said she did not.

Also testifying was Daniel Ramirez, a Honduran man living in Mexico, who said he had gone with Cuen-Buitimea to the U.S. that day to seek work and was with him when he was shot. Ramirez described Cuen-Buitimea grabbing his chest and falling forward.

The trial that started March 22 included jurors visiting Kelly’s nearly 170-acre (69-hectare) cattle ranch outside Nogales.

Kelly was also charged with aggravated assault. He earlier rejected a deal that would have reduced the charge to one count of negligent homicide if he pleaded guilty.

County Attorney Michael Jette addresses jurors during closing arguments in Santa Cruz County Superior Court, Thursday, April 18, 2024 in Nogales, Ariz. Rancher George Alan Kelly accused of second-degree murder in the January 2023 death of 48-year-old Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, who lived south of the border in Nogales, Mexico. (Angela Gervasi/Nogales International, via AP, Pool)

County Attorney Michael Jette addresses jurors during closing arguments in Santa Cruz County Superior Court, Thursday, April 18, 2024 in Nogales, Ariz. Rancher George Alan Kelly accused of second-degree murder in the January 2023 death of 48-year-old Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, who lived south of the border in Nogales, Mexico. (Angela Gervasi/Nogales International, via AP, Pool)

FILE - George Alan Kelly enters court for his preliminary hearing in Nogales Justice Court in Nogales, Ariz., Feb. 22, 2023. Jurors on the case of Arizona rancher Kelly charged with fatally shooting a migrant on his property will be allowed to visit the property near the border with Mexico as early as this week as the trial enters its second half. (Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool, File)

FILE - George Alan Kelly enters court for his preliminary hearing in Nogales Justice Court in Nogales, Ariz., Feb. 22, 2023. Jurors on the case of Arizona rancher Kelly charged with fatally shooting a migrant on his property will be allowed to visit the property near the border with Mexico as early as this week as the trial enters its second half. (Mark Henle/The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool, File)

FILE - George Alan Kelly exits the Santa Cruz County Courthouse with defense attorney Kathy Lowthorp after the first day of his trial in Santa Cruz County Superior Court Friday, March 22, 2024 in Nogales, Ariz. Jurors in the case of the Arizona rancher Kelly charged with fatally shooting a migrant on his property visited the scene of the killing as the third week of the trial wrapped up. The jurors on Thursday, April 11, 2024, viewed various locations at Kelly's ranch, as well as a section of the U.S.-Mexico border. (Angela Gervasi/Nogales International, via AP, File)

FILE - George Alan Kelly exits the Santa Cruz County Courthouse with defense attorney Kathy Lowthorp after the first day of his trial in Santa Cruz County Superior Court Friday, March 22, 2024 in Nogales, Ariz. Jurors in the case of the Arizona rancher Kelly charged with fatally shooting a migrant on his property visited the scene of the killing as the third week of the trial wrapped up. The jurors on Thursday, April 11, 2024, viewed various locations at Kelly's ranch, as well as a section of the U.S.-Mexico border. (Angela Gervasi/Nogales International, via AP, File)

George Alan Kelly listens to closing arguments in Santa Cruz County Superior Court, Thursday, April 18, 2024 in Nogales, Ariz. Kelly was charged with second-degree murder in the January 2023 death of 48-year-old Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, who lived south of the border in Nogales, Mexico. (Angela Gervasi/Nogales International, via AP, Pool)

George Alan Kelly listens to closing arguments in Santa Cruz County Superior Court, Thursday, April 18, 2024 in Nogales, Ariz. Kelly was charged with second-degree murder in the January 2023 death of 48-year-old Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, who lived south of the border in Nogales, Mexico. (Angela Gervasi/Nogales International, via AP, Pool)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Freddie Freeman's grand slam keyed a six-run third inning, Yoshinobu Yamamoto had a strong start and the Los Angeles Dodgers extended their winning streak to four with a 6-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night.

Freeman’s blast off Slade Cecconi (1-4) was part of an onslaught where the first six Dodgers got aboard and scored in the third.

Kiké Hernández and Will Smith also went deep in the inning as Los Angeles improved to 33-17. It is the ninth time in franchise history the Dodgers have at least 33 wins after 50 games.

Yamamoto (5-1) allowed two runs on seven hits and struck out eight in 6 1/3 innings. He threw a season-high 100 pitches, including 69 strikes.

It was the 18th time in 27 games a Dodgers' starter has gone at least six innings.

Daniel Hudson retired the side in the ninth for his third save in five opportunities.

“Offensively we are doing enough to score some runs to win,” manager Dave Roberts said. “I think that there’s room to continue to get better consistency up and down the lineup. But the pitching has been what has been the impetus for this hot streak.”

Arizona's Ketel Marte extended his hitting streak to 19 games. It is the longest run in the majors this season and tied for fifth-longest in franchise history.

Kyle Newman added three hits, his fifth multi-hit effort in the last nine games. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Jake McCarthy had back-to-back homers in the eighth, but the Diamondbacks have dropped four of six.

“I was very pleased with our approach. We built innings and had baserunners. We couldn’t get the big hit at the right time,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.

Freeman's grand slam was the sixth of his career and his third since the start of last season. He is one of seven players with three over the past two seasons.

The Dodgers are the only team in the majors with two players with at least three grand slams since the start of 2023. Max Muncy leads the team with four.

“I’m not looking for the grand slam, but just trying to keep the line moving and get a base hit there. Ultimately, I was able to get it out," Freeman said.

It didn't take the Dodgers long to respond after the Diamondbacks opened the scoring on Joc Pederson's RBI base hit to center.

Hernández led off the inning with a drive to center to tie it at 1-all. Miguel Rojas and Mookie Betts followed with singles before Shohei Ohtani drew a walk to load the bases.

Freeman then got hold of Cecconi's fastball that was low in the strike zone and put it over the wall in right-center for his fifth homer of the year. It also was the third grand slam this season for the Dodgers.

Five pitches later, Smith added a solo shot to left-center, marking the second time this season the Dodgers have had back-to-back homers.

“I gave them pitches to hit and they hit them," Cecconi said. “It’s obvious that they hit a lot of home runs and put a lot of barrels on baseballs and they did that in the third.”

TRAINER'S ROOM

Diamondbacks: OF Alek Thomas (strained left hamstring) has started pool running and taking live at-bats.

Dodgers: RHP Evan Phillips (right hamstring strain) is expected to have a two- to three-game rehab assignment sometime this week. ... RHP Bobby Miller (right shoulder inflammation) will throw a three-inning simulated game Tuesday.

UP NEXT

Arizona RHP Brandon Pfaadt (1-3, 4.17 ERA) takes on Los Angeles RHP Gavin Stone (4-1, 3.27 ERA) in Tuesday's middle game of the series.

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

Los Angeles Sparks' Cameron Brink, left, and Rickea Jackson, right, throw the ceremonial first pitches before a baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks, Monday, May 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Los Angeles Sparks' Cameron Brink, left, and Rickea Jackson, right, throw the ceremonial first pitches before a baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks, Monday, May 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Joe Mantiply throws to a Los Angeles Dodgers batter during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, May 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Joe Mantiply throws to a Los Angeles Dodgers batter during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, May 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Kevin Newman, left, throws over Los Angeles Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani, right, to compete a double play after a ground ball hit by Dodgers' Freddie Freeman during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, May 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Kevin Newman, left, throws over Los Angeles Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani, right, to compete a double play after a ground ball hit by Dodgers' Freddie Freeman during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, May 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto follows through to an Arizona Diamondbacks batter during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, May 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto follows through to an Arizona Diamondbacks batter during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, May 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Arizona Diamondbacks left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. makes a sliding catch on a fly ball hit by Los Angeles Dodgers' Mookie Betts during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, May 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Arizona Diamondbacks left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. makes a sliding catch on a fly ball hit by Los Angeles Dodgers' Mookie Betts during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, May 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Los Angeles Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani, left, is safe at first base on a bunt single past Arizona Diamondbacks first base Christian Walker, right, during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, May 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Los Angeles Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani, left, is safe at first base on a bunt single past Arizona Diamondbacks first base Christian Walker, right, during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, May 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto points to the home plate umpire during the first inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Monday, May 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto points to the home plate umpire during the first inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Monday, May 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Los Angeles Dodgers' Kiké Hernández, left, celebrates after his solo home run with Teoscar Hernández during the third inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Monday, May 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Los Angeles Dodgers' Kiké Hernández, left, celebrates after his solo home run with Teoscar Hernández during the third inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Monday, May 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Arizona Diamondbacks' Kevin Newman, right, scores past Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Will Smith, left, on a single by Diamondbacks' Joc Pederson during the third inning of a baseball game Monday, May 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Arizona Diamondbacks' Kevin Newman, right, scores past Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Will Smith, left, on a single by Diamondbacks' Joc Pederson during the third inning of a baseball game Monday, May 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Los Angeles Dodgers' Freddie Freeman watches his grand slam during the third inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Monday, May 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Los Angeles Dodgers' Freddie Freeman watches his grand slam during the third inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Monday, May 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Los Angeles Dodgers' Freddie Freeman (5) celebrates after his grand slam with teammate Shohei Ohtani (17) during the third inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Monday, May 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Los Angeles Dodgers' Freddie Freeman (5) celebrates after his grand slam with teammate Shohei Ohtani (17) during the third inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Monday, May 20, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

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