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State v. Kimball

Supreme Court of Maine

May 24, 2016

STATE OF MAINE
v.
MERRILL KIMBALL

          Argued: April 7, 2016

         Reporter of Decisions

         On the briefs:

          Daniel G. Lilley, Esq., and Cheryl A. Richardson, Esq., Daniel G. Lilley Law Offices, P.A., Portland, for appellant Merrill Kimball

          Janet T. Mills, Attorney General, and Donald W. Macomber, Asst. Atty. Gen., Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellee State of Maine

         At oral argument:

          Daniel G. Lilley, Esq., for appellant Merrill Kimball

          Donald W. Macomber, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee State of Maine

          Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, and JABAR, JJ.

          MEAD, J.

         [¶1] Merrill Kimball appeals from a judgment of conviction for intentional or knowing murder, 17-A M.R.S. § 201(1)(A) (2015), entered in the Unified Criminal Docket (Cumberland County, Cole, J.) following a jury trial. Kimball contends that the court erred in (1) declining to give a jury instruction addressing the affirmative defense of adequate provocation, 17-A M.R.S. § 201(3) (2015), (2) admitting evidence that he had been drinking on the day that he shot the victim, and (3) limiting evidence concerning the relationships between Kimball's family members and the victim's family members. We affirm the judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] Viewed in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, the evidence supports the following facts. See State v. Weaver, 2016 ME 12, ¶ 2, 130 A.3d 972. Stan Brown is a ninety-five-year-old resident of North Yarmouth, where he lives on his farm and keeps bees. The shooting at issue in this case took place in the context of a dispute between members of Brown's family, [1] and Merrill Kimball and his wife Karen Kimball.[2] Karen helped Brown at the farm and also raised her own bees and harvested honey there. The inter-familial dispute centered primarily on the extent of Karen's purported influence over Brown and her inclusion in his will.

         [¶3] On October 6, 2013, Craig Rawnsley, Brown's grandson, was at the farm. After he called Karen Kimball to tell her that "things were going to change around here, " Karen became concerned about the several thousand dollars' worth of harvested honey that she had stored at Brown's farm. Eventually, Brown's family members and Karen and Merrill Kimball all went to the farm.

         [¶4] Kathleen Kelley, Brown's daughter, testified that when Merrill Kimball arrived in his truck, he drove down the driveway "[v]ery fast . . . and the rocks were flying." Rawnsley was standing by the shop where the honey was stored. When he asked the Kimballs to leave, Karen said that she would wait for the sheriff to arrive. Kathleen Kelley then called 9-1-1. Merrill and Leon Kelley, Kathleen's husband, encountered each other in the driveway; Merrill asked Leon, "Who the fuck are you?" After Leon took Merrill by the shoulders to turn him around and asked him to wait by the road, Merrill tried to push Leon but instead stumbled backward about three steps. He then pulled out a handgun and shot Leon three times; Leon died from his wounds at a hospital soon afterward.

         [¶5] The Cumberland County Grand Jury indicted Kimball for murder, 17-A M.R.S. § 201(1)(A). He pleaded not guilty and retained counsel. The case went to trial in April 2015; at its conclusion the jury returned a verdict of guilty. Kimball's post-trial motions for a judgment of acquittal and for a new trial were denied. At a sentencing hearing, the court entered judgment and sentenced Kimball to twenty-five ...


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