PORTLAND, Maine – A lobsterman was convicted Wednesday in the shooting death of another man at a beekeeping business after a rift over management.
Jurors had to decide whether Merrill "Mike" Kimball, 72, shot 63-year-old Leon Kelley in fear or in anger.
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 manager and made plans to give the business to her in his will. The Kelley family felt that Kimball's wife, Karen Thurlow-Kimball, was taking advantage of Brown, who's in his 90s.
Kelley's stepson called Thurlow-Kimball to challenge her job as the bee farm manager. She 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, armed with a concealed handgun, shot Kelley three times in the torso.
Under Maine law, lethal force can be used if someone feels it's necessary to defend oneself or someone else against a deadly threat.
Defense lawyer Daniel Lilley said Kimball feared the much larger man and faced with "a split-second decision."
"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.
Assistant Attorney General John Alsop said Kimball could've retreated instead of using his gun but instead chose to act out of anger and frustration. "Simply put, he lost his temper," Alsop said.