Kino Springs Man Charged With First-Degree Murder

A 73-year-old man is being held on a charge of first-degree murder after police say they found the body of an unidentified man on his Kino Springs property Monday night.

George Alan Kelly went to Nogales Justice Court for the first time on Tuesday morning. Justice of the Peace Emilio Velasquez set his bond at $1 million. The Chief Deputy of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, Gerardo Castillo, said that investigators were still trying to figure out what happened and why.

Kino Springs Man Charged With First-Degree Murder
Kino Springs Man Charged With First-Degree Murder

“It doesn’t seem like Mr. Kelly and the decedent knew each other,” Castillo said.

A sheriff’s dispatch report shows a call coming in at 2:40 p.m. Monday from the U.S. Border Patrol, relaying information about a “possible active shooter” in the area of Sagebrush Road. The Border Patrol had apparently received a report from a person at the scene, who mentioned a “group of people running” and said he “was unsure if he was getting shot at as well.”

The entry identified the person at the scene as “Allen.” Castillo said that they didn’t find anything when sheriff’s deputies went to the area after the report.

But at 5:56 p.m., there was another report of shots being fired at the property. Castillo said that this time, at 6:24 p.m., deputies found the body of a dead adult Hispanic male. The victim’s body was found 100 to 150 yards from Kelly’s house with one clear gunshot wound. He said that no weapons were found on or near the body.

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Castillo said why Kelly was arrested: “The investigation initially revealed that he had shot in the area.”

He said that the possible murder weapon was still unknown. Castillo said that the hope was that the autopsy, which was set for Wednesday in Tucson, would help figure out who the person was. Assessor records show that Kelly’s property is in a remote area about three-quarters of a mile southeast of Kino Springs Road and about a mile and a half north of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Kelly asked Velasquez about the circumstances of his bond and if he would consider lowering the amount when he went to court Tuesday morning. He told Velázquez that Kelly’s wife lives with him on the ranch.

“She’s there by herself … nobody to take care of her, the livestock. Or the ranch,” Kelly said. “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?”

Kino Springs Man Charged With First-Degree Murder

Tuesday, that didn’t happen. Velasquez told the defendant that the County Attorney’s Office would decide in the next 48 hours whether or not to file an official charge against him.

If they do, Velasquez said, “the lawyer can ask for the bond to be lowered or turned into a secured bond at that time.”

“Yes, I get it,” Kelly said.

Kelly said to the detention officers as he left the courtroom, “Have a good day, guys. I don’t think that I will.” The next time Kelly will be in court is Thursday morning. Kelly told Velasquez that he was a rancher when he went to court on Tuesday. He also seems to write and publish his own stories about ranch life in the border area.

Several websites say that an author with the same name as George Alan Kelly called “Far Beyond the Border Fence.” A note on Amazon says that the book “brings the drug war along the Mexican border into the 21st century.”

The 57-page work is about a character who lives in Southern Arizona at the “VMR Ranch.” Kelly and his wife’s real ranch is called “Vermilion Mountain Ranch,” according to assessor records and a real estate website that listed the property.

The main characters in “Far Beyond the Border Fence” are a married couple with the same first names as Kelly and his wife. George and his foreman “had to patrol the ranch every day with AK-47s,” the story says.

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