Lobsterman convicted of killing another man at bee farm

AP News
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Posted: Apr 15, 2015 5:51 PM

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A lobsterman was convicted Wednesday of murdering another man in a confrontation that stemmed from a dispute between two families over a beekeeping business.

Jurors were asked to decide whether Merrill "Mike" Kimball, 72, shot 63-year-old Leon Kelley in fear or in anger. Defense lawyer Daniel Lilley, who contended the shooting was self-defense, said he was shocked by the murder conviction and planned to appeal.

Bad blood had been brewing between the two families before the killing. The victim's father-in-law, beekeeping business owner Stan Brown, made Kimball's wife the manager and a beneficiary of his will. The Kelley family felt that Kimball's wife, Karen Thurlow-Kimball, was taking advantage of Brown, who's 95.

Thurlow-Kimball asked her husband Mike Kimball and her son to accompany her to the farm on Oct. 6, 2013, so she could retrieve about 700 pounds of honey. A confrontation ensued, and Kelley pushed the smaller Kimball. Kimball shot Kelley three times in the torso.

Assistant Attorney General John Alsop said justice was served by the verdict. Afterward, Kimball was taken away in handcuffs.

"People have a right to carry firearms but the law only provides for use firearms for defense in very particular and limited circumstances. This was not one of them," he told reporters outside the Cumberland County Courthouse.

Under Maine law, lethal force can be used if someone feels it's necessary to defend oneself or someone else against a deadly threat. Lilley said jurors could've been confused by judge's instructions about the law.

Lilley told jurors in his closing argument that Kimball faced with "a split-second decision" to defend himself. "Sometimes people in these situations might say, 'He could have handled it differently.' But that's not the standard. You are not here to Monday-morning quarterback," Lilley said.

Alsop told jurors that Kimball could've retreated but instead chose to act out of anger and frustration. "Simply put, he lost his temper," Alsop said.