PHOENIX - A jury has found a Phoenix man guilty of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of his neighbor nearly a year ago, according to court officials.
This was the second trial for 51-year-old Gary Thomas Kelley after a jury failed to reach a verdict in February and the judge declared a mistrial.
Kelley was arrested last May after police say he shot 44-year-old Juan Varela after an altercation between the two men. Police said the two had a history of arguments.
Varela's brother Antonio spoke out about the verdict Wednesday, saying he's not sure how to feel.
"I'm too emotional right now, I've been in tears happy, kind of feeling sad at the same time," he said. "It's a wonderful day for us, it's a sad day for the man who killed my brother."
Police said at the time it appeared Kelley had been drinking and was intoxicated.
Antonio, who witnessed the crime, said he heard Kelley call his brother a “wetback” and tell the U.S.-born Varela to go back to Mexico. The alleged comments led police to investigate whether the crime was racially motivated.
"They are stereotyping, just because they see us as Hispanics doesn't mean that we came from Mexico," said Varela's sister, Susie Mendoza.
The aggravation phase of the trial began Wednesday afternoon.
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