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April 3, 2013

Murder suspect’s friend takes the stand

By April Lehmbeck
C & G Staff Writer

A friend of murder suspect Andrew Keith testified in 32A District Court April 3 that Keith told her that his stepfather pulled a gun on him.

“He said they were tussling for the gun and the gun went off and it shot him,” Ross said.

Tonya Ross was the sole witness called on the first day of preliminary-exam testimony. The prosecution needed to postpone the rest of the exam until April 10, because the medical examiner slated to testify was caught up in autopsies all day April 3.

Keith, 43, of Detroit, is accused of shooting his stepfather, Johnny Lee Buckner, multiple times and fleeing Buckner’s home in the 18700 block of Old Homestead in February.

He faces multiple charges, including open murder.

According to Ross’ testimony, Keith came to her home after midnight Feb. 14, following the Feb. 13 shooting.

When asked how Ross knew Keith, she testified that they “go back like a Cadillac on four flats.”

“We have a very unique friendship,” she said.

Ross said she wouldn’t be there to testify that day if she hadn’t been subpoenaed.

She testified that Keith came to her home in Garden City, asked for $10 and took it outside for what she assumed was to pay the person who dropped him off. However, she testified that he seemed like something was wrong.

“After the money transaction changed hands, he was kind of despondent,” Ross testified. “He was more so like in shock, like he was — it was like he had something to tell me but he didn’t want to tell me.”

She said he smelled like he had been drinking. Keith went into the bedroom and sat on the bed.

“He was sitting there with his head in his hands,” Ross testified.

When Ross asked Keith what was wrong, he didn’t say until after she asked several times.

“I had to pull it out of him,” Ross said.

He told her “old dude” pulled a gun on him, but Ross didn’t know who “old dude” was at the time, she testified.

“He gets up and he’s pacing around in the room,” Ross said. “He said, ‘I went to my mom’s house.’ He said, ‘I tried to talk to old dude.’ Now, I’m figuring out old dude must have been (the man) who had married his mother.”

She said she started to put the pieces together at that point. Then, she said, he told her about the tussle with the gun.

Ross asked Keith why he went over there, because “that man don’t like him.”

At that point, Ross said she “pulled out some marijuana and rolled up a blunt, because Andrew’s nerves were shot, my nerves were shot.”

Ross testified that it calmed down the tense situation so they could talk.

“He talked about just going home,” she said. “He talked about letting his mother down. He talked about letting his sister down. He talked about disappointing so many people. He talked about not meaning for this to happen.”

Because Ross didn’t remember some items that she had put on record in February and needed her memory refreshed with the transcript, defense attorney John McWilliams asked some questions about the night and her memory of what happened.

McWilliams also asked if their smoking marijuana that night could have affected her memory of the conversation. She said it would not.

“I’ve smoked marijuana for so long that I’m immune to it,” she said.

Ross said she does not have a grudge against Keith. She did say she found it peculiar that he had taken $25 out of her purse that day.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer April Lehmbeck at alehmbeck@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1043.