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Thread: Michelle Martinko (18) was murdered in 1979 and Jerry Lee Burns (65) was arrested and charged on the 39th anniversary of her murder

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    Michelle Martinko (18) was murdered in 1979 and Jerry Lee Burns (65) was arrested and charged on the 39th anniversary of her murder

    I thought we had a thread for this, but I have searched and cannot find it. If we do and someone else can find it, let me know and I will merge.

    https://www.desmoinesregister.com/st...ng/2702680001/

    Four decades ago, 18-year-old Michelle Marie Martinko was found stabbed to death in the family's car in the parking lot of a Cedar Rapids mall.

    Exactly 39 years after her death, police took a Manchester man into custody after matching his DNA to blood found at the crime scene.

    Jerry Lee Burns, 65, is set to face a jury in February, bringing momentum to a case that was left cold for years. If found guilty of his first-degree murder charges, he'll face life in prison.

    Police found Martinko's body in her parents' tan 1972 Buick at Cedar Rapids? Westdale Mall parking lot around 4 a.m. on Dec. 20, 1979.
    Police found 18-year-old Michelle Martinko dead inside a vehicle parked at Cedar Rapids' Westdale Mall on Dec. 20, 1979, with stab wounds to her face and chest.

    The Kennedy High School senior had driven to the mall after a school choir banquet to shop for a new winter coat.

    Now, her face and chest had been stabbed at least eight times. Wounds on the teen?s hands showed she fought her killer.

    Detectives found no weapon or fingerprints to identify a suspect and said Martinko had not been robbed. Based on the number of stab wounds ? particularly to the young woman?s face ? police considered the homicide personal in nature.
    The case goes cold

    Within days of Martinko's killing, police received more than 200 phone calls and letters from people who wanted to help, according to Des Moines Register archives. The police chief at the time, Ray Baker, said the fatal stabbing "outraged the whole community."

    Hundreds of people were interviewed and countless leads were followed, police said a year after the slaying. As the investigation slowed, a $10,000 reward was offered.

    On June 19, 1980, police released a composite sketch, developed based on descriptions provided by two witnesses, of the man they believed stabbed Martinko. The sketch indicated a white man in his late teens or early 20s, weighing between 165 and 175 pounds, and standing about 6 feet tall.

    During the original investigation, detectives compiled a list of more than 80 potential suspects. More than 60 were tested and cleared.

    Investigators later sought the services of a company that specializes in DNA phenotyping, which Cedar Rapids police described as the process of predicting physical appearance and ancestry from unidentified DNA evidence.

    That company, police said, produced portraits for the associated person of interest. Predictions were made for ancestry and facial features, police said.

    Then the case went cold.

    Using newer technology, Cedar Rapids police last year created profiles from DNA procured from case evidence in 2006. Investigators said the man who stabbed Martinko cut his hand and left blood behind on her clothes and on the gear shift knob.

    In one of those profiles, authorities said there were fewer than one in 100 billion unrelated individuals who would have had the same profile.

    Cedar Rapids police then used DNA genetic genealogical research to narrow the profile "down to a specific pool of suspects,? which included Burns, according to a criminal complaint.

    In October 2018, Matthew Denlinger, a Cedar Rapids police investigator, saw Burns drink sodas out of a plastic glass with a clear straw. He retrieved it after Burns left it behind, according to search warrants. An analyst at the state crime lab said DNA from the straw matched blood found on Martinko's dress.

    Burns was arrested on Dec. 19, 2018.

    At the time of his arrest, Burns had been living in Manchester, a town of about 5,000 people 45 minutes north of Cedar Rapids, for longer than Martinko's case had been cold.

    Burns, who would have been 25 at the time of Martinko's death, said he could not offer a "plausible explanation" for why his DNA was found at the crime scene, authorities said at the time of his arrest.

    Burns owns a powder-coating company, Advanced Coating Concepts, in Manchester.

    He previously co-owned a truck stop near town. He built a new home on land his parents once farmed and constructed a gas station and convenience store near where he lived. Several residents lauded his professionalism and business savvy when speaking with the Register last year.

    Burns' arrest prompted a round of whispering about two of his family members.

    Burns' wife, Patricia, died by suicide in 2008. His cousin, Brian Burns, vanished Dec. 19, 2013 ? exactly 34 years after Martinko was killed.

    Delaware County Sheriff John Leclere said authorities "don't have any reason to suspect (Burns) in either case."
    https://littlevillagemag.com/michell...-murder-trial/

    A really long article detailing the whole case:
    https://littlevillagemag.com/michell...-murder-trial/

    https://www.kcrg.com/content/news/No...567658641.html

    The trial for the man accused of killing a Cedar Rapids woman more than 40 years ago will start as scheduled.

    Jerry Burns, 66, of Manchester faces a 1st-degree murder charge in Michelle Martinko's death. He's accused of stabbing her in Dec. 1979 in the Westdale Mall parking lot.

    Police said blood at the crime scene matches the DNA they found on a drinking straw Burns left on a restaurant table in Manchester. However, Burns' attorneys claimed police needed a search warrant to obtain the straw.

    A judge ruled that a person gives up a "reasonable expectation of privacy in property that has been abandoned." Earlier in the week, the same judge ruled computer searches Burns made for pornography featuring blonde-haired women being sexually assaulted and killed cannot be used in his trial. The judge said the crime and the searches can't be connected because they happened 38 years apart.

    Burns' trial is set to start Monday in Scott County

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    https://www.kwqc.com/content/news/Je...568062671.html

    The defense for the man accused of killing a Cedar Rapids teenager more than 40 years ago called only one witness today before resting their case.

    66-year-old Jerry Burns is accused of killing then 18-year-old Michelle Martinko outside the Westdale Mall in Cedar Rapids.

    On Thursday, his attorney Leon Spies called a self-described forensic DNA consultant, Dr. Michael Spence, who says there is a possibility that the evidence that had Burns' DNA on it was mishandled by law enforcement, and it's within the "realm of possibilities" that Burns' DNA ended up at the alleged crime scene through a secondary DNA transfer.

    Spence has heard instructions from the court plenty of times before. According to his website, he is a self-defined forensic DNA consultant who has testified for defense teams for more than a decade.

    Spence said he watched the testimony from days prior with Linda Sawer, a former criminalist at the crime lab with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. She was asked about the possibility of DNA rubbing off and transferring from clothing if that clothing is dry.

    Spence directed his comments squarely at her testimony, where she said the DNA would not transfer.

    "That's clearly not correct," Spence said. "Their ability to detect things, even back in the early 2000s, was at a point when, no, dry transfer of DNA has been established through research and through looking at casework."

    Spence says DNA could appear on a crime scene from a secondary transfer. Some examples include skin cells clinging on to clothing, or in simple terms, even using the same glass at a restaurant.

    The one thing Spence did not argue: it was Burns' DNA that can absolutely connect him to the scene of the crime. He argues because of the potential contamination from bagging Martinko's clothing all in the same bag for decades, there could be some cause for concern.

    "Things shouldn't be packaged in that way, they should be separated out," Spence said. "And if something is packaged of course in 1960 or 1979, people weren't aware who were working scenes that the prominence that DNA was going to gain over the next few decades."

    Spence says the best way to leave no doubt: Martinko's clothes should have been stored separately.

    "I think that you need to separate out the items as early as you possibly can," Spence said. "I can understand why law enforcement officers in 1979 might not have thought of that, but as we've developed the testing methods, and as soon as it was noted that all these items were bundled together, they should have been un-bundled and put into separate packages. It's vital to do that."'

    But prosecutors, led by Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks, wanted clarification on Spence's testimony.

    "So you're not testifying in this case that it's your opinion that the way Jerry Burns' DNA got on her dress was through a secondary transfer," Maybanks asked Spence.

    "No, I'm not testifying to that," Spence replied.

    Maybanks asked if within the realm of possibilities, how Burns' DNA could have gotten on Martinko's dress.

    "Let's say this individual is on top of her holding her down," Maybanks said. "You have a pretty good chance of having his DNA on her, right?"

    "Oh, on various parts I would be shocked if their DNA wasn't, at least in some places, yes," Spence said.

    But Spies doubted it was as black-and-white as the prosecution believes.

    "Is it, Dr. Spence, a plausible explanation that the DNA of Jerry Burns found on the dress or on the gear shift could have come about by a transfer?" Spies asked Spence.

    "Yes, that's a distinct possibility," Spence replied.

    After Spence finished his testimony, Burns said he would not testify on his own behalf.

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    https://www.desmoinesregister.com/st...ct/4855807002/

    For nearly 40 years, the family of slain high schooler Michelle Martinko waited for an arrest. Then for proof. Then for a verdict.

    The wait ended Monday, when a jury convicted Jerry Lynn Burns of first-degree murder in the 1979 stabbing death of 18-year-old Martinko. It was a case, Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman said, "that has haunted our community for decades."

    "We don't exactly know the whys and some of the details, but we definitely know who did it, and that was terribly important to us," Janelle Stonebraker, Michelle Martinko's older sister, said after the verdict was read. "I wish my parents could be here to see this."

    The sisters' parents died more than 20 years ago, Albert Martinko in 1995 and his wife, Janet, in 1998.
    John Stonebraker said the three hours it took the jury to reach a verdict was indicative of the strength of the case. He and his wife, who now reside in Florida, said they were grateful for the Cedar Rapids community's commitment to the case over the past 40 years.
    Burns’ sentencing is likely to be scheduled for early April, though a date has not yet been set, District Judge Fae Hoover said. The mandatory penalty for first-degree murder in Iowa is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

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    Senior Member KimTisha's Avatar
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    Burns’ sentencing is likely to be scheduled for early April, though a date has not yet been set, District Judge Fae Hoover said. The mandatory penalty for first-degree murder in Iowa is life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
    Not a fan of mandatory sentencing, but if they know what it's going to be already, why not sentence him immediately? Why drag it out any longer?
    Last edited by KimTisha; 03-01-2020 at 07:22 AM.
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    Senior Member puzzld's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KimTisha View Post
    Not a fan of mandatory sentencing, but if they know what it's going to be already, why not sentence him immediately? Why drag it out any longer?
    I think to give both sides a chance to do a pre-sentancing report. This person needs to go to someplace with mental health services. This one needs to be at a super max, this one a country club. I know when mom's dentist got sentenced to federal prison his lawyers and the prosecutors both requested a prison with facilities for geriatric prisoners.
    Quote Originally Posted by bowieluva View Post
    lol at Nestle being some vicious smiter, she's the nicest person on this site besides probably puzzld. Or at least the last person to resort to smiting.
    Quote Originally Posted by nestlequikie View Post
    Why on earth would I smite you when I can ban you?

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    Senior Member KimTisha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by puzzld View Post
    I think to give both sides a chance to do a pre-sentancing report. This person needs to go to someplace with mental health services. This one needs to be at a super max, this one a country club. I know when mom's dentist got sentenced to federal prison his lawyers and the prosecutors both requested a prison with facilities for geriatric prisoners.
    Yes, of course, that totally makes sense. I'm just an impatient person sometimes.

    ETA: Crazy about Mom's dentist though. Lytle ended up with a life sentence for fraud! Was he a good dentist at least?
    Last edited by KimTisha; 03-01-2020 at 07:23 AM.
    You are talking to a woman who has laughed in the face of death, sneered at doom and chuckled at catastrophe.
    ...Collector of Chairs. Reader of Books. Hater of Nutmeg...

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