Witness testimony began Tuesday in the murder trial of Santa Cruz County rancher George Alan Kelly. Kelly is charged with shooting and killing an undocumented border crosser passing through his ranch.

For a defense attorney, raising reasonable doubt is the key to getting your client acquitted. In the case of Kelly’s murder trial, his lawyers have already suggested maybe someone shot the victim before Kelly even picked up his gun.

Kelly is charged with firing at least nine shots from an AK-47 assault rifle in the direction of Gabriel Cuen Buitimea and another man as they moved south across Kellys ranch toward Mexico. Prosecutors say one of those shots killed a man who was not moving towards Kelly, and presented no threat.

The first witnesses in Kellys trial were from law enforcement, testifying about investigative techniques like using drones for aerial photography, and laser devices to create 3-D recordings of the scene.

Defense attorneys say Kelly heard a gunshot before he brought out his rifle and fired over the heads of the men who were more than a football field away. In opening statements Kellys lawyers offered the idea that someone else fired the fatal shot before Kelly did anything.


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Because the fatal shot went through the man and kept going, the bullet was never recovered, so it was never tested for a match to Kellys gun.

Defense attorney Kathy Lowthorp questioned Santa Cruz County Deputy Pedro Felix. Felix was the second deputy assigned to watch the body until it could be removed. It was his job to make sure no one disturbed any evidence.

Lowthorp asked Felix about the odd condition of a backpack the victim had:

<b>Defense Attorney Kathy Lawthorp</b>: There is a backpack sitting over this gentleman’s head. Is that correct?” <b>Deputy Felix</b>: Correct. <b>Lawthorp</b>: Did you notice the backpack was unzipped? <b>Felix</b>: No.

Deputy Felix said he could not be sure whether investigators at the scene before him had opened the backpack for inspection.

Kellys lawyers have made a point of mentioning the victim was carrying a two-way radiothe sort smugglers often use.

Prosecutors have told jurors Kelly sent aggressive texts about taking action against smugglers crossing his land, and that he made evasive statements, and waited many hours to tell investigators he had fired his gun.

In early afternoon prosecutors called a Border Patrol agent assigned to stay in touch with ranchers on the border. He was the first person Kelly called when he say people crossing his land.