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Defense Rests; Burns Will Not Take the Stand in Own Trial

The Defense has rested in the murder trial of Jerry Burns of Manchester.

And he will not take the stand to testify.

Burns has pleaded not guilty to First Degree Murder in the stabbing death of 18-year old Michelle Martinko in 1979. She was found dead in her parents’ car in the parking lot of Westdale Mall in Cedar Rapids. Investigators say Burns’ DNA connects him to the scene. He was arrested at his business in Manchester on the 39th anniversary of her death on December 19, 2018.

Trial started last week in Scott County in Davenport, where the trial was moved to due to pre-trial publicity.

Our coverage partner KCRG says Burns’ defense attorneys started presenting their evidence Thursday and finished after calling just one witness – Dr. Michael Spence, who talked about forensics surrounding DNA casework. He testified it is possible for DNA to be transferred from one person to another in passing, and not necessarily at the time a crime was committed.

He talked more about the possibility of transferring DNA.

The prosecution wrapped up their testimony on Wednesday. They played a video that showed Burns in the backseat of a police car following his arrest, in which he talked about the possibility of someone memory’s being blocked. An investigator says Burn didn’t admit guilt during that ride, but he didn’t deny the accusation of murdering Martinko either.

Prosecutors plan to call rebuttal witnesses on Friday morning.


story courtesy of KCRG and Radio Iowa


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