Thursday, December 5, 2013
Sunday’s fatal shooting at a beekeeping business in North Yarmouth was self-defense, said the lawyer for the man who police say fired the gun.
Stan Brown, the owner of a beekeeping business near where Sunday’s shooting took place, says the alleged gunman had been banned from the property.
John Patriquin/2013 file
Merrill “Mike” Kimball, 70, of Yarmouth allegedly shot Leon Kelley, 63, of Georgetown multiple times during a confrontation in front of Brown’s Bee Farm, which is behind 239 Greely Road.
“It appears to be a clear case of self-defense,” Daniel Lilley, Kimball’s attorney, said Tuesday. “I think the state, obviously, by letting him go, has come to that conclusion.”
State law enforcement officials said Tuesday that they have not reached any conclusions in the case and are working to determine whether the shooting was a crime or a justified act. A spokesman said the Maine State Police will not release its reports on the case at this stage of the investigation.
Lilley said Kimball and his wife were hurt in an altercation with Kelley that preceded the shooting, but not seriously.
Kimball was on the property to help his wife, Karen Thurlow-Kimball, who works at Brown’s Bee Farm, retrieve the honey she had processed, Lilley said.
“She was going there to pick up her honey. Her husband came with her because it’s like 50 pounds a container,” Lilley said. “They were going to put it in the truck. I don’t think there was anything unusual about it.”
Police said they have not arrested Kimball because he does not pose a threat to the community and they are still trying to sort out what led to the gunfire.
Deputy Attorney General William Stokes said the case might be presented to a grand jury, which would determine whether a felony indictment is warranted. No such decision has been made.
The incident occurred outside the home and business of Stan Brown, in a section of North Yarmouth off Greely Road. Lilley said the fact that Kimball was carrying a gun does not mean he anticipated a confrontation.
“This guy has a concealed-weapon permit and carries a gun in his holster, and has as a matter of habit for many years,” said Lilley.
Lilley said he would not discuss the reasons for the confrontation, but that it quickly became violent. He said Kelley was the aggressor.
“I don’t think he swung at him, but I think (Kimball) got pushed pretty hard,” Lilley said.
He described it as a “David and Goliath” confrontation because he said Kimball is 5 feet 10 inches tall and slender, while Kelley was well over 6 feet tall, bulky, with “hands like catcher’s mitts and apparently a very likable guy, but a guy who is quite formidable-looking.
“My client was struck, but he didn’t break bones or have any teeth knocked out,” Lilley said. “His wife was bruised. Both of them were injured, but not severely.”
Brown, 93, is a fixture in beekeeping, well-known throughout the eastern seaboard, said Andrew Dewey, a beekeeper in Washington County who is on the board of directors of the Maine State Beekeepers Association.
Thurlow-Kimball has been working with Brown in the beekeeping business for about five years. In a recent article in the American Bee Journal, a publication for beekeeping enthusiasts, Thurlow-Kimball described Brown as a mentor and said she had begun managing the business, which sells beekeeping supplies such as hives and medicine.
Thurlow-Kimball said in the article that Brown’s Bee Farm maintains 54 hives, 51 of them her hives and three of them Brown’s. The operation, described by other beekeepers as “good-sized” for Maine but small nationally, produces about 1,900 pounds of honey a year, selling for about $5 a pound.
Recently, Brown’s family became concerned that Thurlow-Kimball was taking advantage of the relationship, said his daughter, Anne Brown. She would not elaborate.
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