Arizona rancher charged in shooting death of Mexican man

Arizona rancher charged in shooting death of Mexican man

NOGALES, Ariz. (AP) – An Arizona rancher accused of killing a Mexican man on his land near the U.S.-Mexico border pleaded not guilty Monday to manslaughter and other charges.

George Alan Kelly was present in Santa Cruz Superior Court in Nogales when he was charged with second-degree murder.

The 74-year-old spoke briefly, answering only yes or no questions from the judge.

Judge Thomas Fink set a trial date of Sept. 6, denying a request by Kelly’s defense attorney for a two-month exemption. Brenna Larkin asked for more time to interview her own experts and because the state executed additional search warrants on Kelly’s property on Monday.

Kelly walked out of the courtroom immediately after the hearing. He has been allowed to remain free on $1 million bail.

Prosecutors reduced Kelly’s charge from a single count of first-degree murder, which requires a finding of premeditated intent to kill and carries the death penalty. Mexican officials have told U.S. prosecutors they believe Kelly should have faced charges of first-degree murder.

Kelly is accused of fatally shooting Gabriel Kuen-Buetima, an unarmed 48-year-old immigrant from Nogales, Mexico.

Prosecutors said there is no basis that Kelly intentionally or recklessly fired an AK-47 rifle at eight unarmed migrants from 80 to 100 yards (meters) away.

Larkin said his client fired into the air at the migrants. He said Kelly feared for his and his wife’s safety and property, and that he saw people walking through his property with rifles and backpacks.

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