No charges, so far, in North Yarmouth shooting death

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NORTH YARMOUTH — A man died of multiple gunshot wounds Sunday afternoon at Brown’s Bee Farm on Greely Road, the Maine medical examiner’s office determined.

Tim Feeley of the Maine attorney general’s office said Tuesday that an autopsy report is not complete, but could confirm the cause of death of Leon Kelley, 63, of Georgetown.

Kelley was the son-in-law of the co-owner of the business, 93-year-old Stan Brown, according to Maine State Police. Kelley was taken by ambulance to Maine Medical Center in Portland, but died on the way.

According to police, Kelley was shot by Merrill “Mike” Kimball, 70, a Yarmouth lobsterman and the husband of Karen Thurlow-Kimball, co-owner of the business with Brown.

Police said Kelley and Kimball apparently had a confrontation at the business, which is behind Brown’s house. Maine State Police troopers detained, interviewed and released Kimball, and detectives are trying to determine the specific circumstances of the confrontation.

Whether Kimball will be charged with a crime will be determined after an investigation, Steve McCausland, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman, said Monday morning.

“We have a lot more work to do,” McCausland said, “to figure out what brought on this confrontation,” and the violence that followed.

He said Tuesday that those involved in the incident continue to be cooperative, and are undergoing a second or third round of interviews.

Kimball’s attorney, Daniel Lilley, reportedly told The Portland Press Herald his client acted in self-defense, and that the state had reached that conclusion in releasing him.

McCausland would not substantiate that claim on Wednesday. “We’ve made no determination” whether Kimball acted in self-defense, he said. “We’re still investigating the death, and the circumstances and the chain of events that led up to it.”

Brown on Monday said he had told Kelley to keep Kimball from entering his bee supply store, which was closed at the time. Brown said he had told Kimball on several previous occasions not to enter the shop during closed hours, and called the Yarmouth lobsterman “troubled.”

Brown called the shooting, and lack of immediate charges against Kimball, a “sad mess.”

“I think it’s pretty … rotten,” Brown said. “They said they need more evidence. What more evidence do you need? You’ve got a dead man with three bullet holes in him. … What (more) do they want? Another dead man? It doesn’t make sense at all.”

The beekeeper also said Kimball had in the past gone into his store when it was closed to “take tools, bee supplies or anything else he could sell.”

Kelley was recalled Monday as an “upbeat and jovial spirit” as well as an important part of the Georgetown area community by those who knew him.

“Anyone who knew him will tell you that he had a way of making people laugh like no one else I know,” longtime friend Leo Gibbons said. “He would always light up any room with his upbeat and jovial spirit. Even when he was hurting, recovering from heart surgery, he would joke about it. Leon would do – and often did – anything to help out anyone, even if he didn’t know them.”

The shooting was reported at about 3:15 p.m. Sunday.

One neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said Monday morning that he arrived home after the incident to find the area taped off and several police cars around.

He expressed shock at the incident, and said the owners seemed “to be pretty normal people.”

Another nearby resident, who also declined to be identified, said she was home at the time of the shooting, but had the TV on, and did not realize something had happened until seeing law enforcement and emergency vehicles rushing to the scene.

“There are gunshots around here a lot,” she said, because of hunters and a nearby shooting range. “I wouldn’t have thought anything of it.”

Brown appeared earlier this year in American Bee Journal, which reported that he has raised bees for 81 years. The publication noted in a later story, on Thurlow-Kimball, that she started beekeeping in 1976.

Seth Koenig of the Bangor Daily News contributed to this report. Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Sidebar Elements

Leon Kelley of Georgetown was shot and killed Sunday afternoon at Brown’s Bee Farm in North Yarmouth, behind the Honey Comb Drive home of business co-owner Stan Brown, off Greely Road. Merrill Kimball of Yarmouth allegedly shot Kelley, police said.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.