Former MSU basketball star Keith Appling ordered to trial on murder charge

Former Michigan State University basketball standout Keith Appling was ordered Monday to stand trial in the homicide of a male relative in May.

Detroit District Court Judge Roberta Archer ordered Appling, 29, to stand trial on several charges including murder, felony firearm and felon in possession of a firearm in connection with the shooting death of 66-year-old Clyde Edmonds.

Edmonds' wife Cassandra is the first cousin of Appling's mother, police and prosecutors said previously.

Keith Appling

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The judge's ruling followed a preliminary examination Monday, the purpose of which was to determine if there was enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial.

Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor William Lawrence, in his arguments asking Archer to have Appling stand trial in Edmonds' homicide, called the slaying "cold-blooded."

"There is no evidence (Appling) and the victim were fighting. There is no evidence (Appling) and the victim were arguing," said Lawrence Monday during the preliminary examination in which three witnesses testified, including Edmond's stepson and wife. "This was a cold-blooded killing."

Police initially said Appling was believed to have had an argument with Edmonds over a handgun before the shooting.

Appling's defense attorney, Andrew Abood, asked Archer not to bind his client over on the murder charge and said none of the witnesses testified about seeing his client shoot Clyde Edmonds.

Edmonds was found on the front lawn of a home in the 13000 block of Whitcomb around 7:10 p.m. May 22 with multiple gunshot wounds. He was shot five times, four times in the back. Appling allegedly fled the scene of the shooting afterward, police said.

Lawrence said mystery surrounds a motive for the shooting but testimony from Cassandra Edmonds and stepson Timothy Williams leads to a possible motive in the shooting.

Lawrence said Edmonds probably confronted Appling about Edmond's gun. Cassandra Edmonds testified she saw Appling go toward the back of her home when he visited shortly before the shooting. Williams testified a gun he wrestled away from Appling shortly after he heard gunshots and found his stepfather wounded was his stepfather's weapon.

"He said he loved me and he's sorry," Williams quoted Appling as saying.

Appling has been charged with first-degree murder, felon in possession of a firearm and two counts of felony firearm. 

Appling's girlfriend, Natalie Brooks Bannister, 28, of Jackson, is charged with accessory after the fact and lying to a peace officer in connection with Appling's case. She is accused of driving Appling away from the shooting scene and failing to tell police the truth, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office.

Bannister was scheduled for a preliminary examination Tuesday but has waived it.

The murder charge against Appling is the latest but most serious legal problem for the former athlete. Appling, the onetime captain and member of the MSU basketball team from 2010-14, pleaded guilty to a drug charge in October in Macomb County after police found heroin in his vehicle during a traffic stop. Appling was sentenced to 18 months probation in November. A warrant was issued for a probation violation on Feb. 16, according to records in Macomb County Circuit Court.

In 2017, Appling pleaded guilty to carrying a concealed weapon and resisting and obstructing a Detroit police officer during an unrelated traffic stop on the city's east side. He was ordered to serve a year in jail and five years' probation for that offense. 

As part of a sentencing agreement, two other criminal cases against Appling were dismissed.

Appling also faces an attempted murder charge for a May 2 shooting at Bannister's home in Jackson.