Today, we close the case of Michelle Martinko.
Jerry Lynn Burns received the mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. He was ordered to pay victim restitution of $150’000 to the estate of Michelle Marie Martinko or her heirs.
The defense is seeking a restitution hearing on a later date.
Burns did speak briefly before sentence was passed. “Someone else stabbed Michelle.”
Victim impact statements came from Michelle’s sister and husband on video.
After the verdict was read, defense counsel seemed to be comforting Burns. As he walked away, he briefly acknowledged with a nod some people in the courtroom.
On Feb 24, 2020 the jury took three hours to find Burns guilty of murder in the first degree. According to Iowa state law, the mandatory sentence is life imprisonment.
Michelle Marie Martinko was found dead on Dec 20, 1979. She was repeatedly stabbed in her face and chest. Police found her body in the family Buick in the parking lot of the Westdale Mall, Iowa. Police said there was no sign of a sexual assault, but she had wounds that indicated she fought with her attacker.
In Oct 2006, police announced they had developed the suspect’s DNA. However, no match was found in the national Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).
In May 2017, Cedar Rapids Police Department released a suspect composite sketch based on that DNA.
On Dec 19, 2018, police announced an arrest. Jerry Lynn Burns (64) was arrested 12/19/2018 and faces first-degree murder charges. A covert DNA sample was matched to blood found at the crime scene. Police questioned Burns at work in Manchester, Iowa where he denied killing Martinko.
The judge ordered a $5 million cash-only bond. The preliminary hearing was on Dec 28, 2018. Trial was set for Oct 14, 2019 in Linn County District Court. On Feb 24, 2020 the jury found Burns guilty of murder in the first degree. Sentencing was scheduled for April 17, 2020. Due to COVID19, sentencing was pushed back until June 19 and then to Aug 7, 2020.
Burns received the mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. He was ordered to pay victim restitution of $150’000 to the estate of Michelle Marie Martinko or her heirs. The defense is seeking a restitution hearing.
Rest in peace, Michelle Martinko.