The identity of an illegal alien fatally shot after crossing onto an Arizona rancher’s property has been confirmed, and as his family in Mexico mourned the loss, a promise of “justice” was put forth.
Initial details on the death of 48-year-old Gabriel Cuen-Butimea were sparse as authorities only suspected his identity based on a voter registration card located with the decedent’s effects. Since then, family members have taken to social media to react to the death of their loved one as a funeral was held Monday night.
Images from Facebook and Instagram show mourners gathered around a casket with the caption of one roughly translating to “Your babies will love you forever dad.”
Others depicted the man as he was in life, a crucifix necklace displayed as he posed beside an SUV with a drink in his hand and another, again with a vehicle, wearing a button-down shirt and a cowboy hat.
As previously reported, Cuen-Butimea was allegedly shot once by 73-year-old rancher George Alan Kelly when the Mexican national had crossed into the United States and made his way onto Kelly’s property about a mile and a half north of the border in Kino Springs, Arizona.
The arrested rancher was held on $1 million bond over the incident which left the decedent’s body found by Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office deputies between 100 and 150 feet away from the home he shares with his wife.
Arizona man begs for release to protect wife after shooting man illegally in the UShttps://t.co/5TAAPGIc7d
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) February 7, 2023
According to a report from the Daily Mail, a woman identified as Cuen-Butimea’s daughter held up an image of Kelly’s mugshot and said, “We will get justice for you, daddy, I promise.”
When the suspect first appeared in court on January 31, he pleaded with Justice of the Peace Emilio Velasquez to lower the bond from $1 million to something that he might actually be able to pay. As he explained, his wife and their property had no one else to look after them, “She’s there by herself … nobody to take care of her, the livestock. Or the ranch. And I’m not going anywhere. I can’t come up with a million dollars. Is there… Would you consider reducing it to any degree?”
The amount was left unchanged as Kelly faces a first-degree murder charge. Arizona does have Stand Your Ground laws, but they stipulate that “a person is justified in threatening or using physical force against another when, and to the extent a reasonable person would believe that physical force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful physical force.”
As the investigation remains active and ongoing, it remains unclear what if anything transpired between Kelly and Cuen-Butimea before the victim was shot. A neighbor did tell 13 News that this was not the first time the rancher had experienced trouble with trespassers on his land.
In fact, Kelly reportedly authored a short book titled “Far Beyond the Border Fence” with characters named after himself, his wife, and their ranch, all about the “Mexican Border/Drug conflict.” Contained within, the character of George and his ranch foreman, “had to patrol the ranch daily, armed with AK-47s.”
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