Rancher Charged with Killing Illegal Immigrant Released on Bond After Christian Website Steps Up
An Arizona rancher accused of murder, among other charges, has been released from custody — due in no small part to the kindness of strangers.
George Alan Kelly is facing a first-degree murder charge and two charges of aggravated assault after he allegedly shot and killed an illegal migrant, Gabriel Cuen-Butimea, that had entered his property near the U.S.-Mexico border.
The entire ordeal took place at Kelly’s ranch right outside of the border town of Nogales.
Fox News confirmed with Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Gerardo Castillo that Kelly posted bond on Wednesday.
Kelly was originally slapped with a $1 million bail — a rather exorbitant number that Kelly was sure he couldn’t conjure up. However, the rancher seemed more concerned for his wife and the running of his ranch, than his own well-being in a jail cell:
“She’s there by herself,” Kelly reportedly pleaded at a court hearing, referencing his elderly wife left to fend for 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.”
To a degree, Kelly appears to be correct. He was unable to come up with a million dollars.
But that’s where those aforementioned strangers jumped in.
A crowdsource campaign on Christian donation site GiveSendGo (started after GoFundMe kicked Kelly and his supporters to the curb) blew past its original goal to lend a helping hand to the Arizona rancher.
Created by a “Shannon Pritchard,” it appears her original goal of $25,000 was utterly annihilated when people began catching wind of Kelly’s plight.
“I thank all of you so very much for your generosity. This campaign started out to raise 25k, and we are almost at 250k! Astounding, miraculous, a blessing to the Kelly family beyond belief. Donations are understandably slowing down, so I am going to set the new, and last, goal to reach that $250,000.00 mark,” Pritchard wrote in a post on the donation page.
Turns out that Pritchard could’ve easily added another $50,000 to her “new, and last, goal,” because, as of this writing, Kelly’s GiveSendGo page has raised $327,249.
A separate GiveSendGo page set up for Kelly has helped raise an additional $51,308 as of this writing. (That donation page has a stated goal of $1,000,000.)
Kelly’s entire ordeal has been an up-and-down saga, as new details have emerged and both sides present their case.
For the prosecution, Kelly was represented as a dangerous individual who had no qualms about shooting a fleeing person in the back.
“Mr. Kelly shot an unarmed man in the back in an unprovoked attack as he ran for his life. There was no warning, and the victim was more than 100 yards from the defendant’s residence when he was shot and killed,” said Kimberly Hunley, chief deputy attorney for Santa Cruz County.
The defense claimed that Kelly was merely firing warning shots into the air.
But more importantly for the defense, they simply want Kelly to get a fair shake.
“The Alec Baldwin case comes to mind of a case where an incident occurred, there was a shooting, there was an investigation and following the lengthy investigation, then there were criminal charges. That’s an example of how a criminal case should be handled. This case was not handled in that manner, Your Honor. This case was charged first and investigated later,” argued Brenna Larkin, Kelly’s attorney.
Judge Emilio Velasquez did uphold Kelly’s $1 million bond, though he did change it from a cash bail to a surety bail, which would allow him to put up his home as collateral.
The next hearing is set for Friday.
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