Booted from GoFundMe, Legal Defense Funds for Rancher Who Fatally Shot Illegal Immigrant Raise over $350,000 on GiveSendGo

George Alan Kelly, a southern Arizona rancher, received over $350,000 in legal defense fund aid on GiveSendGo after being kicked off of GoFundMe for trying to raise money for his case.

Kelly is being charged with first-degree, premeditated murder for allegedly shooting an illegal immigrant on his property on January 30. GoFundMe took off multiple legal defense funds for Kelly because the company said these funds violated its terms of service about raising money “to cover the legal defense of anyone formally charged with an alleged violent crime.”

Jacob Wells, a co-founder of GiveSendGo, told The Arizona Sun Times, “We are happy that GiveSendGo has become the neutral platform for everyone needing to fundraise.” His sister and co-founder, Heather Wilson, added, “GiveSendGo stands committed to allow people to fundraise for legal activities no matter how volatile the political climate might be.”

The 74-year-old rancher’s attorney, Brenna Larkin, said Kelly fired warning shots on his property near Nogales after he heard a gunshot and found a group of men pointing an AK-47 at him. He said he did not realize until hours later when he found the body that he had hit someone. He notified law enforcement both after confronting the men and after finding the body.

The Mexican citizen is believed to be 48-year-old Gabriel Cuen-Butimea. The Daily Mail reported that federal records show Cuen-Butimea “had a history of illegal border crossings and deportations in and around Nogales, with the most recent documented case in 2016.”

Arizona’s “stand your ground” law states 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.” To convict Kelly, prosecutors will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was not justified in using deadly force in self-defense.

In a court filing requesting a lower bail, Kelly’s attorney stated, “Had Mr. Kelly truly murdered someone with premeditation, then he would have no incentive to call law enforcement and lead them to the body. On the contrary, he would have had every incentive to dispose of the body in the vast, isolated desert areas surrounding his property.”

Wilson said her platform, in contrast, operates under “innocent until proven guilty.” She added, “We do know that in our country a legal defense is not just for the wealthy.”

GiveSendGo, which is a Christian crowdfunding site, gained prominence for allowing fundraisers banned by GoFundMe that benefited Kyle Rittenhouse and the “Freedom Convoy” of truckers protesting Canada’s COVID-19 restrictions. While its founders have not experienced any fallout yet from hosting Kelly’s fundraisers, they did receive some backlash for the Freedom Convoy campaigns.

“There is currently a class action lawsuit being spearheaded by attorney Paul Champ against the Freedom Convoy organizers on behalf of some citizens in Ottawa,” Wells told The Sun Times. “They have recently requested that GiveSendGo and [myself] be added as a defendant to the $300 million claim.”

One of the GiveSendGo campaigns supporting Kelly started out with a goal of raising $25,000, increased it to $250,000, and has now brought in over $300,000. Shannon Pritchard, who launched the fundraiser, stated in the description, “[T]hey are holding this old farmer on 1 million dollar bail, which anyone can see is purely political. This will ruin the remaining years of this gentleman’s life, through no fault of his own.”

A second campaign, which has raised over $42,000, declared that “illegal aliens” have “repeatedly trespassed and harassed him … He is the one sitting in jail this morning! Not the illegal aliens.” Kelly’s wife Wanda started one of the campaigns, stating, “We are private people and are horrified about some of things being said about him in the media.”

A neighbor of Kelly’s who preferred not to be identified and said Kelly was a friend told KOLD he believed Kelly acted in good faith.

Kelly is being held in Santa Cruz County Jail on a $1 million bond. Judge Emilio Velasquez refused to lower the bond, despite Kelly stating his wife needed his assistance at the ranch to take care of the livestock. Kelly’s next court date is scheduled for next week.

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Rachel Alexander is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News NetworkFollow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Background Photo “Courtroom” by Carol M. Highsmith.




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2 Thoughts to “Booted from GoFundMe, Legal Defense Funds for Rancher Who Fatally Shot Illegal Immigrant Raise over $350,000 on GiveSendGo”

  1. Henry

    GoFundMe refuses to “cover the legal defense of anyone formally charged with an alleged violent crime,” but apparently only if they are conservatives. They cancelled accounts for George Kelly, the Canadian trucker convoy, every J6 defendant, and Kyle Rittenhouse; but had absolutely no objection to funding the legal defense of the Massachusetts Molotov Lawyers (Rahman and Mattis), the Sorority Arsonist (Patterson), and the fellow who pulled an illegally-possessed gun to kill Rittenhouse (Grosskreutz). I will no longer give to even a good cause at GoFundMe; I advise them to open an account at GiveSendGo, who additionally does NOT take money off the top of your donations like GoFundMe does.

  2. John Stuczynski

    Seems like the judge is being out of line here. The prosecutor is really out in left field on this if he or she thinks they can get a conviction in this case. No one along the border would find this man guilty.