Murder suspect pleads guilty in 2013 killing

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published May 13, 2015

Andrew Bernard Keith, 45, pleaded guilty May 12 in Wayne County Circuit Court in the 2013 murder of Johnny Lee Buckner, 60, inside Buckner’s home on Old Homestead.

Buckner was fatally shot on Feb. 13, 2013. Harper Woods police arrested Keith, Buckner’s stepson, two days later. The charges that the Wayne County Prosecutor’s office authorized against Keith included open murder.

According to police information, Keith pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and felony firearm in 3rd Circuit Court in Detroit, and his sentencing was scheduled for May 28. Police said he will be sentenced to 20-35 years for the murder charge. As a parole absconder, he also will serve a five-year sentence for that offense, police said.

“I would like to congratulate our team, led by Detective Lt. Ted Stager, for their excellent work in taking another violent criminal off of our streets,” Public Safety Director James Burke stated in a report.

During Keith’s preliminary exam in Harper Woods in April 2013, police played a recording in court in which Keith claimed the shooting was in self-defense. He said his stepfather pulled a gun and then “rushed him.”

“We started tussling for it,” Keith said in that video. “I shot him again and again.”

He told police that he initially went to Buckner’s home to talk to Buckner about insurance money left after Keith's mother died and how his mother had promised that Buckner would take care of her children.

Buckner told him to leave and pulled a gun on him, Keith said on the video.

“It was no scheme,” he said on the footage. “I went over there to talk to that man. That’s it.”

“I ain’t never took nobody’s life before,” he told police in the recording.

After firing multiple shots, Keith went upstairs, grabbed the keys to Buckner’s vehicle and went back downstairs, according to the recording. When Buckner moved, Keith panicked and shot him again, Keith said on the video.

“I just rushed up out the house, and I took the car,” Keith said on the video.

He told police in 2013 that he ditched the vehicle and dropped the gun near a building in Detroit.

During the preliminary exam in Harper Woods in 2013, Keith’s sister, Sharon Keith, testified that Keith and Buckner had a tough relationship that went back to when Andrew Keith was a child.  

“He was treated bad,” she said of her brother.

She also testified about violence against their mother by Buckner.

“We had to see her being beat, as kids,” Sharon Keith testified in 2013.

Keith’s attorney, Gabi Silver, commented on the case following the plea.

“I’m just glad there’s closure for everyone involved,” Silver said. It’s “a pretty tragic situation for everybody all around.”