A Mexican official on Friday said the government wants the Arizona rancher to face tougher charges for killing a migrant who crossed into his territory.
Arizona judge said last week George Alan KellyThe 74-year-old man is to be charged with second-degree murder and aggravated assault in connection with the death of Gabriel Kuen-Buitimea, who was killed at Kelly Ranch near Nogales, Arizona.
He was initially charged with first-degree murder.
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Vanessa Calva, head of Mexico’s consular defense, told US prosecutors that the Mexican government believes Kelly should be charged with first-degree murder. She said Kuen-Buitimea, 48, was unarmed, running away and was shot in the back.
Prosecutors say Kelly opened fire with an AK-47 at eight unarmed migrants he encountered on January 1. 30 people on his ranch, hitting Kuen Buitimea as he tried to flee. Later, two migrants from the group told authorities that Kelly also shot at them, but they were unharmed and escaped through the fence back into Mexico.
Kelly’s lawyer, Brenna Larkin, said her client fired warning shots at the migrants and feared for his safety, his wife and his property. He said he sawen people with AK-47s and backpacks are walking through the area.
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US court records show Cuen-Butimea was convicted of illegal entry and deported back to Mexico several times, most recently in 2016, according to the Associated Press.
Kelly is released on $1 million bail.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.