High court declines to review appeal of Ann Arbor crack money murder conviction

ANN ARBOR, MI – The highest court in the state will not hear the case of a man convicted of killing his neighbor for crack money in 2017.

The Michigan Supreme Court issued an order Wednesday, Oct. 6, declining to review the appellate court’s decision to uphold the conviction of Claude Braziel III who was found guilty of slaying his neighbor and friend David Sloss for money to buy crack.

Ann Arbor crack money murder conviction upheld by appellate court

Braziel was found guilty by a jury of felony murder, second-degree murder and armed robbery for the slaying of Sloss, a 66-year-old retired General Motors worker, during a November 2017 robbery in Sloss’ apartment in the 1700 block of Parkwood Avenue in Ann Arbor.

The second-degree murder conviction was dismissed at his sentencing hearing on Dec. 2, 2019, to avoid a double-jeopardy conflict.

In his appeal, Braziel, 46, argued the court erred in allowing jurors to hear testimony regarding a 2007 incident where Braziel was arrested and later convicted of beating a woman with a hammer and robbing her over a debt of $10.

Woman severely beaten with hammer over $10, police say

The Michigan Court of Appeals disagreed, stating the testimony about the 2007 incident had enough common features to “establish a rational inference of a common plan or scheme,” that being to use violence to acquire drugs.

Braziel appealed the decision, asking the state supreme court to review the case, but was ultimately turned down by the court stating it was “not persuaded that the questions presented should be reviewed by this Court,” judges wrote in the order.

During the trial, prosecutors successfully argued Braziel had killed Sloss, stabbing him to death, while he was looking for cash to buy more crack cocaine after running out earlier that night.

Jurors heard testimony from a fellow neighbor who said he was smoking crack cocaine with Braziel in his apartment for several hours until the pair ran out at about 11:30 p.m., on Nov. 29, 2017.

Braziel, who wanted to keep doing drugs, told him he “was going to figure something out” and left the apartment, returning about an hour-and-a-half later with $120 in cash and more crack, the neighbor said.

It did not appear that anyone forced their way into Sloss’ home, police said. Police discovered Sloss had several spare keys he’d given to friends and neighbors, one of which was in Braziel’s apartment.

During one of the interviews Braziel was questioned about a knife, the murder weapon, found in his garden outside the apartment.

He told police both he and Sloss had touched the knife previously, using it to unclog a couple of toilets.

Braziel is currently incarcerated serving life without the possibility of parole.

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