An Arizona rancher who is charged in the shooting death of an illegal alien on his property phoned U.S. Border Patrol agents up to 40 times in the month of January alone, according to one of his neighbors.
George Alan Kelly is accused of shooting Gabriel Cuen-Buitimea, a Mexican national, on Jan. 30 on his property near the U.S. border.
Kelly has maintained his innocence in court through his attorney Brenna Larkin. He was released last week after being held on a $1 million bond.
Larkin has stated in court documents her client was threatened with an AK-47 on the day Cuen-Buitimea was found shot to death.
Kelly said he heard a gunshot on his land prior to an encounter with armed migrants who had crossed the border and ended up on his ranch.
Larkin has also said Kelly was in contact with the Border Patrol ranch liaison multiple times on Jan. 30.
According to a neighbor who spoke to the U.K.’s Daily Mail on Wednesday, Kelly was in constant contact with the agency over migrants who had encroached onto his property after coming across the border.
The outlet Kelly’s next-door neighbor spoke out about the agency and its multiple trips to the rancher’s land.
‘They’re on his property 30 or 40 times a month,” said a man who asked to keep his identity private.
Added the neighbor, “Border Patrol, they have keys to his property — his gate. So it’s very common for them to be here.”
A woman who lives near Kelly also told the Mail that agents from numerous law enforcement agencies were in the area in the days before the migrant was found dead in a pasture.
“I know a few days before this happened, there was a lot of activity with Border Patrol,” she said. “They were rushing through the streets.”
Neighbors also spoke of trash that people who cross illegally into the country in the area leave behind.
Some said it is not uncommon to see a large police presence in the area, and one person said a helicopter was flying over Kelly’s property for more than an hour just days before Cuen-Buitimea’s body was found.
Kelly’s attorney has said her client felt his life was in danger on the date of the shooting.
Larkin said in a court document Kelly admitted to firing “warning shots” over the heads of a group of armed men. As for Cuen-Buitimea, Larkin has stated Kelly is not responsible for his death.
Kelly was charged with first-degree murder, but a judge reduced the charge to second-degree murder last week.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.