Homicide investigation continues
Barry County Judge Michael Schipper ordered a forensic examination in the case and amended the no-contact order.
Orangeville Township resident Jon Otis Burnett, 63, is being held in a maximum security cell in Barry County Jail awaiting forensic testing to determine if he’s competent to stand trial.
Burnett faces at least eight charges – two open murder and other felony counts in the June 21 shootings deaths of Bryce DeGood, 21, of Haslett, and Burnett’s neighbor and friend, Gary Peake, 73, Plainwell.
Burnett does not have a criminal history, Barry County Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor Pratt told The Banner. “But, in our world, that does not mean there wasn’t any history. ...That’s part of the investigation.”
Nakfoor Pratt said after a July 3 probable cause conference in district court before Judge Michael Schipper that more charges against Burnett are likely.
Bond continues at $10 million, which was set at his arraignment. He is facing two counts of open murder as well as assault by strangulation, felonious assault and four counts of committing felonies with a firearm in Barry County.
Nakfoor Pratt called Burnett “an extreme danger to society.”
“It also is my understanding that it’s being investigated that Mr. Burnett also shot at various motorists who tried to help the person who was lying in the street and that he placed his gun in the faces of several other motorists, including one motorist who had small children in the car, his grandchildren,” Nakfoor Pratt said during the arraignment.
She said after the July 3 court proceeding that at least one vehicle may provide evidence of shots that were fired at motorists.
Police also are charging Burnett with strangling, suffocating and assaulting his wife, Lynne Burnett of Plainwell, with a pistol.
At Burnett's arraignment on June 24, District Court Magistrate Frank Hillary issued a no-contact order prohibiting Burnett from having any contact with his wife.
On July 3 at the probable cause conference before Judge Schipper, Burnett’s wife asked that the no-contact order be amended to allow her to talk to her husband and visit him in jail.
Nakfoor Pratt advised Judge Schipper of the request, saying, “ I will leave that up to the court. He’s in jail.”
Lynne Burnett, who was sitting with other courtroom observers, stood when the judge addressed her.
“You’re open to having phone and or letter contact from him as long as it’s not inappropriate or threatening?” Schipper asked.
Mrs. Burnett replied, “I would also like to see him, talking, face to face, things about the house, finances, accounts.”
No one objected.
“Given that this is something that would assist Mrs. Burnett in this matter I will allow that,” the judge agreed.
Then he addressed Burnett: “You may talk to her by phone. You may send her letters.
“You may visit him at the jail,” he told Lynne Burnett.
The judge turned back to Burnett: “But if there is anything at all that I think is inappropriate, that I think is harassing, intimidating, threatening, assaultive; if I think it’s in any way witness tampering, manipulative, whatsoever, not only will I deny your contact with her, I will remove all your privileges at the jail, except for communication with your attorney. Do you understand that?”
At the June 24 arraignment, Burnett, who wears hearing aids affixed to his head behind each ear, appeared to have trouble hearing. At the July 3 court proceeding, he responded to questions and confirmed that he understood the judge’s instructions.
The judge adjourned the case until Oct. 2 when authorities should have the results of the forensic examination.
Open murder is a felony carrying a maximum of life in prison. Assault by strangulation is a felony carrying a maximum of 10 years in prison. Convictions of felonious assault carry a maximum of four years in prison and felony firearms counts carry a mandatory sentence of two years in prison.