The murder trial of a 72-year-old lobsterman accused of fatally shooting another man during a fight at a North Yarmouth bee farm in 2013 is scheduled to begin Monday.

Merrill “Mike” Kimball maintains that he acted in self-defense on Oct. 6, 2013, when he shot 63-year-old Leon Kelley in a dispute between the two men’s families. Kimball rejected a plea offer before trial, which will be held in the Cumberland County Courthouse, the judge said last week.

“Under certain circumstances in our state, a person is substantiated in using deadly force in self-defense,” Justice Roland Cole told a courtroom full of prospective jurors Friday.

Kimball’s attorneys, prosecutors and Cole adjourned for the weekend without completing jury selection and will resume picking the final jurors Monday morning. Cole said in court that he expects lawyers for the two sides will make opening statements before lunch Monday, followed by witness testimony in the afternoon.

The trial is expected to continue all week.

Kimball was not immediately arrested after the shooting while police investigated. He was allowed bail after being indicted in 2013 and pleading not guilty.

Kimball remained free and will be allowed to come and go during the week-long trial. He appeared at ease at Friday’s court appearance, dressed in a wool blazer with a closely cropped beard and mustache, and stood to introduce himself to the room full of prospective jurors.

“My name is Merrill Kimball. Mike Kimball. My name is Merrill, but everyone calls me Mike,” he said.

Kimball also told the judge after the jury had left for the day that he understood when he rejected the state’s plea offer that he could face 25 years to life in prison if convicted of murder. If convicted of manslaughter, he could be sentenced to up to 30 years.

Both sides agree that Kelley was the aggressor in the fight and pushed Kimball, before Kimball shot him three times in the torso with a Ruger .380 pistol that he often carried.

Kimball was at Brown’s Bee Farm on the day of the shooting with his wife, Karen Thurlow-Kimball, who managed the farm for now 95-year-old Stan Brown, the owner of the business. Kimball and his wife’s son, Damon Carroll, were there to help Thurlow-Kimball haul about two dozen 50-pound jars of honey, Kimball’s attorney, Daniel Lilley, said days after the shooting.

The Brown and Thurlow-Kimball families had been at odds after Brown included Thurlow-Kimball in his will, leaving the bee business to her along with 4 acres of his 10-acre property off Greely Road.

Brown’s daughters, including Kelley’s wife, Kathy Kelley, and other members of the family became concerned that Thurlow-Kimball was taking advantage of Brown as the older man’s memory began to fade.

Leon Kelley had been visiting Stan Brown across the street from the bee farm when Kimball, his wife and her son arrived to load the honey jars. He drove the short distance to the business, confronted Kimball and told him to leave. The two men had never met before that day.

Members of both families witnessed Kelley’s death, and the prosecution intends to call many of them to testify this week.

The state’s witness list includes Brown, the bee farm patriarch; Kathy Kelley, who has power of attorney for Brown; and other members of the Brown family. Thurlow-Kimball is also listed as a witness for the state, along with her son. It is unclear whether Kimball will testify.

Assistant Attorney General John Alsop will make opening statements for the state Monday, followed by Lilley for the defense.


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