Rebecca Pierce, Editor, reports a bond was set at $10 million in the arraignment of Jon Otis Burnett, the 63-year-old Plainwell man accused of two counts of open murder, assault by strangulation, felonious assault and four counts of committing felonies with a firearm in Barry County.
Gary L. Peake, 73, of Plainwell, and Bryce Nathan DeGood, 21, of Haslett, were shot and killed in Orangeville Township Friday afternoon, county law enforcement officials said.
Burnett is accused of those killings and of strangling, suffocating and pistol-whipping his wife, Lynne Burnett, of Plainwell.
Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor Pratt called Burnett “an extreme danger to society’ and said it is likely other charges will be added to this case.
“We have other information that we're still working on,” Nakfoor Pratt told district court Magistrate Frank Hillary Monday afternoon.
Hillary explained the charges to Burnett, who appeared to have trouble hearing.
Burnett, in orange jail garb and shackled, was wearing hearing aids attached to the back of his head. He said one word during the proceedings – yes – to acknowledge that he understood the charges being leveled against him.
He was read his rights and advised of the possible consequences if he is convicted of the charges.
A probable cause conference was scheduled for 8:15 a.m. July 3.
Nakfoor Pratt requested the bond, saying, “A couple of things I’d like the court to take into consideration: We have two open-murder charges, four counts of felony firearm, so far, one count of strangulation and one count of felonious assault.
“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.
“These are all people that need to be interviewed, and these are all situations that we need to vet out so we can decide what charges would be appropriate.”
“So, I want the court to know that there are likely more charges coming out of this,” Nakfoor Pratt said. “Not only am I extremely concerned about what happened … there just did not seem to be any concern [shown by Burnett] for life or anything on that day.
“We are … actually asking for a $10 million cash bond.”
Hillary urged that any evaluations needing to be done in this case happen as soon as possible so that “we don’t lose time and he doesn’t stagnate someplace in the system.”
“Having heard no statements to the contrary, I believe Mr. Burnett poses a threat to society,” the magistrate said.
The amount of the cash bond, at $10 million, will make it impossible for him to get out, Hillary added, saying, “given open-murder charges, he could be held without bond at all.”
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.
After the hearing, Nakfoor Pratt told the Banner she was impressed by the actions of motorists who stopped to help and made an effort to protect other citizens.
The investigation is continuing, she said.
Since police don’t know everyone who was out there that day, they would appreciate being contacted by anyone who was involved.
DeGood's body was found along Lindsey Road near the intersection with Lewis Road. Peake's body was found in a building nearby, according to police.
Funeral arrangements for Gary Peake have not yet been announced.
A celebration of the life of Bryce DeGood, a 2016 graduate of Comstock Park High School, was to take place today at the Beuschel Funeral Home in Comstock Park.