A judge Thursday lowered the bond on Mike Voden, 71, accused of murdering his neighbor last month after the man’s dog entered Voden’s yard and would not leave.
Superior Court Judge Robert Duber II cut Voden’s bond from $1 million to $200,000, but set strict conditions that amount to monitored house arrest.
The crowded, three-hour hearing revealed that Voden has a history of confrontations with people, often involving dogs and guns. That includes one misdemeanor assault conviction 34 years ago in Michigan and several confrontations in Payson that were never charged.
Based on these incidents, the Payson Police Department and prosecutors asked Duber not to lower the bail amount, saying Voden is dangerous. Duber overruled their objections and slashed the bail amount.
Duber said that if Voden posts bail he cannot leave his 2.3-acre property and must wear an electronic monitoring device, which will notify the victim’s widow if he leaves.
He must also turn over any guns to friends to hold until after the trial and padlock all gates on his property to prevent accidental visitors.
On the morning of Nov. 9, Randy Burnett entered Voden’s yard from a side gate separating their yards to retrieve his dog Scooter. The dog was reportedly running around the yard, which Voden referred to as a botanical garden.
Randy’s wife Brenda said she had let Scooter out to go to the bathroom, but when he didn’t return she awakened Randy to help retrieve the hound dog.
When Brenda turned to get a ball from their yard, Randy reportedly entered Voden’s yard to grab Scooter. At some point, Voden exited his home and confronted Randy, despite the pleas of a 911 operator to stay inside.
“Get this, get this (expletive) dog out of my yard right now,” Voden said to Randy, according to a 911 call. Voden told the dispatcher and officers that he shot Randy because he felt threatened after Randy attacked him.
“He was attacking me. He jumped on me,” Voden tells the dispatcher.
However, Brenda does not believe Randy threatened Voden as he tried to retrieve the dog. She said Randy was not an aggressive person and had cancer.
She testified on Thursday that she feared for herself and others and urged Duber to keep Voden locked up.
Gila County Chief Deputy Attorney Shawn Fuller also asked Duber to keep the $1 million bond in place, saying Voden had murdered Randy in cold blood in broad daylight.
Det. Matt Van Camp said the Payson Police Department also objects to any decrease in bond.
When Duber asked why, Van Camp said Voden has had several other run-ins with police and other people.
In 2006, Voden reportedly attended a Payson Town Council meeting, pulled out a wooden gun and shot a rubber band at councilors.
Van Camp said he almost shot Voden at the council meeting when he saw Voden pull out the gun, but at the last second realized it was wooden.
In June of 2007, officers contacted Voden at Green Valley Park after he reportedly pulled a semi-automatic pistol out during a concert in the park. In that incident, a man had reportedly walked his dog near where Voden was sitting under a tree. When Voden thought the small dog might pee on him, he reportedly shoved it away.
The dog’s owner asked Voden why he had shoved the dog, according to police reports obtained by the Roundup. In response, Voden pulled out his gun.
Voden later told officers that the man was verbally aggressive, cursing and threatening to beat him up. Voden said as the man continued to yell, he reached under his shirt and pulled out his gun. He then set it on the grass next to him, hoping the man would go away.
By contrast, the dog’s owner told officers that when he had asked Voden why he had shoved the dog, Voden yelled profanities at him.
When the man spotted Voden’s holster he said something to the effect of, “What are you going to do now, shoot me?” according to police records.
The man then walked away, feeling threatened by Voden’s behavior. He waited for police to arrive.
Although the Payson police requested charges in that case against Voden, the then-county attorney declined to prosecute.
Voden was never charged or convicted in either the 2006 or 2007 cases.
However, Fuller said Voden has been convicted of assault in another state. Once again, the case involved a dog and a gun.
In 1979 in Michigan, a man was walking his dog when the animal got away, according to police reports. Voden grabbed the dog and locked it in his garage.
When the dog’s owner asked for the dog back, Voden refused, saying he would wait until cops arrived.
The dog’s owner insisted he would not leave until he had the dog.
At that point, Voden pulled out a blue-steel handgun, pointed it at the man and said he would shoot if the man did not leave, according to police reports. The man retreated and waited for officers.
Voden later told officers he had taken the gun out because he was afraid the man would attack him. However, he was convicted of misdemeanor assault.
Voden’s lawyer, Michael Bernays, pointed out that the incident occurred 34 years ago. Bernays argued Voden is not a danger to the community and he will comply with any release conditions.
Bernays called on several people in the crowded courtroom to testify to Voden’s good character.
Former Star Valley Mayor Bill Rappaport was among the more than two-dozen supporters. Rappaport said he has known Voden and his wife Pat Rollins since 2004. He, along with two other men in the audience, said they would check in on Voden if he were released.
Duber set bond at $200,000 and ordered Voden to have no contact with Brenda and turn over all weapons to a friend to hold.
He said the Payson police officers could search Voden’s home no more than once a month, making sure he didn’t have any firearms.
The next case management conference in the case is March 3.