A judge has denied Mike Voden’s request to loosen his release conditions and let him go shopping three hours a week.
Voden has been on house arrest since he posted bond Dec. 20. He is only allowed to leave his property on East Rancho Road to take his disabled wife to the doctor or visit with his lawyer Michael Bernays. This is too restrictive and does not give him time to buy groceries or visit the bank, said Bernays in court documents.
The Gila County Attorney’s Office balked at the request saying it would create a hardship on Brenda Burnett, the widow of Randy Burnett, who Voden is accused of murdering near his doorstep in November.
On the morning of Nov. 9, the Burnetts were trying to get their dog Scooter out of Voden’s neighboring yard when Randy reportedly entered the yard where Voden confronted him about the dog.
Voden shot Burnett four times, but said he did so in self-defense because he thought Burnett was going to assault him, according to officers’ reports. A grand jury indicted Voden for second-degree murder and Judge Robert Duber II placed his bond at $1 million cash. He then lowered it to $200,000 cash and Voden was released.
Voden has since then been isolated to his large property, ordered to keep his gates locked, wear an ankle-monitoring device, have no firearms or contact with Brenda — who no longer lives in the house next door.
At Voden’s bail hearing, friends said they would check up on Voden and his wife Pat Rollins and some even agreed to hold onto his firearms until after the trial.
However, since Voden returned home on house arrest, “he has experienced difficulty finding neighbors or friends who are willing to do all the grocery shopping that needs to be done for Mr. Voden and his wife,” Bernays wrote. “The Vodens attempt to lead a very healthy lifestyle and eat vegetarian, organic foods, and are, therefore, very particular about the ingredients in the various foods that they purchase for preparation of their meals.”
Voden asked Duber for time each week to get food since Rollins is disabled, having had polio as a child, and cannot get around, according to court documents.
Voden’s request also included going to Safeway, Bashas’, the area’s health food stores and the bank, all the while wearing a GPS monitoring device.
Shawn Fuller, Gila County chief deputy attorney, said Voden was essentially asking for access to the “entire business center of the Town of Payson.”
“Allowing the defendant (Voden) to have three hours in which to go from one end of the town to the other would force the victim (Brenda) to stay in her home for three hours a week,” Fuller wrote. “Such a restriction on an innocent victim is unconscionable.”
Duber denied the request last week and kept Voden’s release conditions the same.
In other news in the case, Fuller asked Duber in late January to place a protective order on crime scene photos, Burnett’s autopsy and police reports relating to the case. The Roundup had requested those items from the Payson Police Department Jan. 15.
Fuller argued that releasing those items could have a detrimental effect on Voden’s right to a fair trial.
“The public vetting of crime scene photos, witness accounts, investigatory conclusions, and other raw evidence would invite the trial of this case in the press rather than in court,” he wrote. “Such incomplete information could lead the public, which includes prospective jurors from Gila County, to “guess” as to how the alleged crime transpired.”
Duber, however, denied Fuller’s request saying they are not judicial records, but those of the Town of Payson. Furthermore, even if the court could put a protective order on the records, the GCAO would have had to give Roundup notice, which it did not.
The town released the police reports and some crime scene photos to the Roundup, but not Randy Burnett’s autopsy or photographs of his body citing privacy concerns.