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Double homicide case proceeds to trial in April

Jon Burnett, 63, of Plainwell, enters the Barry County courtroom for a pretrial hearing in December.



Rebecca Pierce


A June 21 double homicide case against Jon Burnett, 63, of Plainwell, was bound over for trial in April 2020.

Burnett faces 36 counts, including open murder and kidnapping.

The two men shot and killed in Orangeville Township were Gary L. Peake, 73, of Plainwell, who was shot six times, and Bryce Nathan DeGood, 21, of Haslett, who shot in what testimony described as an execution-style slaying.

Autopsies determined the cause of death in both cases as homicide.

Burnett's wife, Lynne, as well as Jason Wyatt, David Harrison, Michael Geist, Tracey Schisser and her 16-year-old son, Joseph Powell, Ashley Glumm, Mallory Gray, Daniel Robinson, Gary and Nola Harps, sheriff's deputies Kevin Erb and Brian Hansford testified during a two-day preliminary examination in Barry County court Friday, Nov. 22, and Monday, Nov. 25.

These witnesses are mentioned in the second amended felony complaint against Burnett in which he is charged with assaulting them with a pistol as well as resisting and obstructing police officers Erb and Hansford when they responded to the 911 call.

A last-minute charge alleging that Burnett kidnapped DeGood before killing him was added to the list of felony complaints Nov. 22 just before the preliminary examination began.

But an exact chronology of events is not yet known. Police aren't sure who was killed first, Peake or DeGood.

Toxicology reports on Burnett showed he had a blood alcohol content of 0.079, as well as the presence of narcotics oxycodone and zolpidem (Ambien) in his bloodstream.

Defense attorneys Shane McNeill and Steven Storrs have raised objections about the introduction of some evidence, saying Burnett had not been properly “Mirandized” at the scene.

As a result, he was denied a basic right, they said.

A Miranda Warning advises a suspect of his right to remain silent and that anything he says can and will be used against him in court.

Suspects also must be advised that they have a right to an attorney and, if they cannot afford one, an attorney will be provided for them.

In an audiotape from the dashboard camera of sheriff's deputy Erb, played during the hearing in court in November, Burnett tells police, “my buddy is dead next door.”

Burnett, often unintelligible, cries and moans, “Oh God, I don't know what is wrong with me.”

Then, according to police testimony, Burnett took police to the body in Peake's house.

Police efforts to advise Burnett of his rights were met with belligerence.

Prosecutor Julie Nakfoor Pratt argued that Burnett's statements to police were spontaneous and did not come as the result of any interrogation by police.

McNeill and Storrs argued that the police had the burden to advise Burnett of his core rights. The remedy for not doing so is suppression of the statements that he made at the time of his arrest.




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