1: Sixth Judicial District Judge Fae Hoover ruled that the prosecution may use the DNA evidence obtained from a discarded straw. Police got that straw after Burns left it behind in a Manchester (Iowa) restaurant. Remember that Burns’ DNA was found at the crime scene. It was on Michelle’s dress and gear stick. The process how police got to Burns e.g. the familial genetic material search, will be allowed at trial.
2: Burns’s pornographic internet search history will not be allowed at trial. These searches that police found were from 2018. Martinko was murdered in 1979. Unless he searched specifically for her, the time gap diminishes the relevancy to this case.
The judge ruled that introducing this search history could be “unduly prejudicial” to Burns and it could possibly violate his right to a fair trial. “Hoover said there also would be a risk that Burns could be convicted based upon his taste in pornography rather than on “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” in the cold-case killing.” I agree.
Last, keep in mind that the prosecution must tie Burns not just to the crime scene. They need to establish that somehow Martinko and Burns knew each other. Also, they must present the court with a motive or his intent to single her out. If they lack that connection and the motive/intent, their case will not be a very strong one.
I will check up on the trial as it goes by and either report here or just update the database.
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. He could not offer an alternative explanation for why his DNA was found at the crime scene. Burns again denied killing Martinko when he appeared by video for his arraignment. He requested court-appointed counsel. The judge ordered a $5 million cash-only bond.
The preliminary hearing was on Dec 28, 2018. Trial was initially set for Oct 14, 2019 in Linn County District Court. The trial was moved out of Linn County after the prosecution decided not to resist a motion for a change of venue. Burns will now face trial by jury in the Scott County Courthouse in Davenport.
The jury selection started on Feb 10, 2020.
If you have any information about this case, please contact Investigator Matt Denlinger at 319-286 5442 or email him at [email protected]