The widow of 63-year-old Leon Kelley has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the man convicted last month of shooting her husband to death at a North Yarmouth bee farm in 2013.

Kathleen Kelley of Georgetown is seeking $1 million from Merrill “Mike” Kimball, a 72-year-old Yarmouth lobsterman, who is being held at the Cumberland County Jail in Portland until his sentencing for murder next Friday.

Kimball shot Kelley three times after Kelley’s family confronted Kimball’s family on Oct. 6, 2013, at Brown’s Bee Farm, which is owned by Kathleen Kelley’s father, 95-year-old Stan Brown, and was managed by Kimball’s wife, Karen Thurlow-Kimball.

Kathleen Kelley contends in her lawsuit that Kimball was “careless and negligent in drawing his weapon and firing at Mr. Kelley.”

“As a result of that carelessness and negligence of the defendant, Mr. Kelley suffered severe pain, injury, emotional distress and death,” the seven-page lawsuit says. The lawsuit, filed in Cumberland County Superior Court on May 14, also charges Kimball with depriving Kathleen Kelley of her husband and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other charges.

Kathleen Kelley’s attorney, Christiane Williams, said she filed a separate motion with the wrongful death suit to attach Kimball’s house at 104 Portland St. in Yarmouth to the lawsuit.


“What this does is allows us access to any potential property and assets he owns,” Williams said of the motion, which sets the claim at $1 million.

Williams said Kimball was served with the lawsuit in jail, but she said it’s still too early in the process to say how the case will go forward.

Kimball’s attorney in the murder case, Daniel Lilley, said he has spoken to Thurlow-Kimball about the civil suit but had not had a chance to talk to Kimball about it. Lilley said he doesn’t know if he will represent Kimball in the civil case.

“We’re focusing on the criminal case,” Lilley said.

Kathleen Kelley also contends in her lawsuit that Kimball and Thurlow-Kimball were on Brown’s property “illegally” that day and “without permission,” contentions that were disputed by witness testimony at Kimball’s murder trial.

Kathleen Kelley, her husband and her children, Craig Rawnsley and Robin Rawnsley-Dutil, went to confront Thurlow-Kimball that day when she arrived at the bee farm with Kimball and her son, Damon Carroll, to retrieve about 700 pounds of honey that she had harvested to sell for between $4,000 to $6,000.


Witnesses, including members of Kelley’s family, testified at the trial that the Kelleys’ claim that the honey belonged to them was wrong. Thurlow-Kimball had paperwork from the state proving she owned the bee hives used to produce the honey, and had permission from Brown to be there.

Thurlow-Kimball started working for Brown at the farm in 2009, and developed a close friendship with the older man She testified that Brown’s family rarely took an interest in him until just weeks before the shooting, and that she had run Brown’s business for him as his dementia worsened, and cared for him in his family’s absence.

That relationship changed after Brown made Thurlow-Kimball a beneficiary in his will, leaving her the bee business. Brown’s relatives – including Kelley’s wife – and other members of the family said they were concerned that Thurlow-Kimball was taking advantage of their father as his memory began to fade.

Kimball contended that he acted in self-defense, shooting Kelley only after Kelley, who was 6-foot-4 and weighed 285 pounds, shoved him repeatedly and after Kimball had retreated about 35 feet down the bee shop driveway to the edge of some woods.

The jury at Kimball’s trial in April rejected his self-defense claim and decided after six hours of deliberation that he was guilty of murder, rather than the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Kimball faces 25 years to life in prison. He cannot appeal his conviction until after he is sentenced.

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