Murder trial of unarmed immigrant heats up US-Mexico border | International
George Allan Kelly, a 75-year-old Arizona rancher, awaits trial for second-degree murder. His process, which begins this Monday, raises the temperature even more in a region that is already red hot, the border of Mexico and the United States. On January 30, Kelly says he found the body of a man shot on his property near Kino Springs, a town just yards from the line. His defense claims that that day he heard a shot, which was followed by a group of men armed with high-powered rifles, who were crossing his land without permission. He took an AK-47 rifle and fired a few shots to try to scare them away. But after these, Gabriel Cuen Buitimea, a Mexican migrant from Sonora, fell dead. The Prosecutor’s Office considers it a murder.
Trials in the United States are driven by narrative. On many occasions two different stories collide in court. This is what will happen starting this week when Santa Cruz County Judge Thomas Fink presides over the first hearing of the accusation. A jury will then determine which version of events is more convincing. Brenna Larkin, Kelly’s lawyer, has described the case as “a political tinderbox” for what she implies putting an American who has opened fire on an immigrant in the dock. This in the midst of a polarization over border management, a debate stirred up by the extreme right.
“This case could set off an anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican atmosphere,” considers Vanessa Ruiz, the director of consular protection for the Mexican Foreign Ministry. In a press conference from Nogales (Arizona), the official indicated that the case cannot go unnoticed. “The perpetrator fired at least eight times and witnesses have declared before the authorities that the shots continued even when Mr. Cuen was lifeless on the floor,” said the Foreign Affairs official. The Prosecutor’s Office assures that the deceased man was shot and fled when he was hit by bullets. Autopsy photographs show that the bullet exited through the left side of the chest. They shot him in the back. The indictment has added a couple of assault charges, but the main one was changed from first-degree murder to second-degree. The Government of Mexico seeks to return to the original position. “Mr. Cuen’s daughter has asked us that she wants justice to be done,” adds Ruiz.
The version that lawyer Larkin has raised in court could be similar to the plot of one of Clint Eastwood’s recent movies. The defense claims that Kelly was eating lunch with his wife Wanda when she heard the shot. Through the window she saw her horse gallop rapidly, fleeing. She said she saw a group of men among the trees on her ranch, where she has lived for 20 years. “They were armed with AK-47 rifles, dressed in khaki and camouflaged clothing and carrying large backpacks,” says the lawyer. The man went for his rifle and went out onto the porch. “The leader of the armed group saw Mr. Kelly and pointed his AK-47 directly at him. Kelly, fearing for his life and his safety, fired several shots from his rifle, hoping to scare them away from him, his wife, their animals and his home,” the defense account states. , made on February 9.
The Prosecutor’s Office believes that the facts were very different. Kelly himself changed his version before the authorities at least three times since 1:30 p.m. that Monday. In the first communication from him, the rancher contacted the border patrol and not the emergency services. He said that he had shot. “I can’t say much over the phone. But this is very bad. Send someone here,” Kelly recorded in a voice message on the cell phone of one of the agents, Morsell. On the second call, minutes later, he reported the group trespassing on his property. In the third communication, made almost three hours later, Kelly makes the version that the defense now maintains in court. The criminal group, he assures him, was made up of 10 or 15 people. The authorities that responded to the call did not find any trace of the people described by Kelly.
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The prosecution presented a couple of witnesses. They were crossing the border next to Cuen Buitimea in a group of seven or eight people. He was headed to Phoenix to look for work. Neither was armed, according to court documents. They claim that Kelly never asked them to leave her property nor did she give any warning before pulling the trigger. One of these men, who is only identified as DRR, a farmer who has crossed the border at least six times before, claimed that he saw Gabriel touch his chest and say “they hit me.” Seconds later, he watched as his eyes rolled back.
a premonitory story
Before awaiting a murder trial, Kelly was a man with literary aspirations. He has self-published a couple of books. The Prosecutor’s Office intends to use one of them, from 2013, against the accused. In Far Beyond The Border Fence (Beyond the Border), Kelly tells a modern western. The character, a rancher from southern Arizona, discovers one day that two of his most valuable horses are no longer on his ranch. The clues take him to Mexico, where he must face a group of drug traffickers who have kidnapped, in addition to his animals, a couple of relatives.
The work of fiction borrows heavily from border literature, a genre masterfully dominated by authors like Cormac McCarthy. But Kelly’s ideology soon oozes between his paragraphs. “Stop the construction of the border wall [después de la elección de 2008] It was a tactic by Washington politicians to try to buy the votes of Hispanics living legally and illegally in the United States (….) but it was a matter of life and death for all the families living near the border”, he writes. Kelly soon in her novel.
At another point, he describes the region as a “war zone” where the owners must risk their lives. In one scene, George, his protagonist, surprises a couple of horsemen at his ranch, who were looking to take more animals. He picks up an AK-47 and shoots “straight” at them. One of these is wounded in the arm.
Defending the radical right
To large sections of the right, Kelly is being treated like a hero. Conservative television channels, such as Fox News, are giving timely follow-up to the judicial process, which Kelly has continued to be free for having paid a million dollars as bail.
The conservative far right has organized to support Kelly. The alleged murderer of an unarmed immigrant has been supported by hundreds of people through Give Send Go, a microfinancing platform that has helped movements such as QAnon, anti-vaxxers, the supremacists Proud Boys and Project Veritas, considered an extreme organization. right. The campaign on the site had a goal of raising $250,000 to help with the defendant’s legal expenses. At the moment, they are about to reach $350,000.
“Millions of patriots are with you, Mr. Kelly”, “God bless you”, “Americans need to defend America when our Government has decided not to”, are some of the comments from people who have invested in the cause. It’s the same type of comments that those who are buying Kelly’s books on Amazon have left in recent weeks. the campaign of crowdfunding It was first rejected by crowdfunding giant Go Fund Me, which argued that they don’t allow fundraising on behalf of anyone accused of violent crimes.
Brenna Larkin, Kelly’s lawyer, has made it clear in the preparatory hearings that throughout the trial she will insist that the region where her client lives is under threat, as it is part of the drug and people trafficking routes. Attempts have been made to cast doubt on whether Cuen Buitimea, who lived in Nogales (Sonora), was part of a gang of coyotes, the men who help cross the border. Larkin claims that Kelly never fired “at” the men but “over” their heads. This is at odds with her literary characters who open fire with an AK-47 on those who step on her property.
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