Four points of interest in the Michelle Martinko trial:
1: Male DNA profile found at the crime scene led police to believe the suspect cut himself during the attack. Authorities composed lists of suspects to contact for cheek (buccal) swaps. These men included ex-boyfriends. From the entire list (not sure of the total number of people on the list) 161 were eliminated. Of those 161, 128 were dropped after their buccal swaps did not match. Some were eliminated through data in CODIS. At the time, about 14mio profiles were in CODIS. All were compared. None matched.
2: In June 2008, there was flooding at the police department affecting their evidence room. Some evidence was lost or damaged. This included the Martinko case. How much exactly was lost and/or damaged I still need to learn.
3: Jerry Burns is one of three brothers. The swaps of Donald and Kenneth Burns was eliminated as major contributor.
4: An autopsy was performed the day after Michelle was found. She had been stabbed 11 times. She was stabbed in her aorta and lungs, she had lacerations to her face and neck, totaling 29 “sharp edge wounds” according to Richard Fiester, the now-retired pathologist, who performed Martinko’s autopsy. He further explained that Michelle had slice marks in between her fingers e.g. defensive wounds. She put up a fierce fight. Fiester said she probably lost two-thirds of her entire blood volume that night. When she was found, her dress had been pulled up but she was still wearing her pantyhose. She had not been sexually assaulted. However, with the dress pulled up, sexual assault seemed to have been the intention.
The trial will continue 9am Tuesday Feb 18.
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 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 change of venue. Burns will now face trial by jury in the Scott County Courthouse in Davenport. The jury selection started Feb 10, 2020.
If you have any information, please contact Investigator Matt Denlinger at 319-286 5442 or email him at [email protected]