A Manchester man accused of killing a Cedar Rapids teen forty years ago was in court on Friday.
According to our coverage partner, KCRG, during the brief hearing, Jerry Burns’ defense team requested that key DNA evidence be thrown out of the case. They argue that investigators did not have a warrant to obtain it.
But investigators say they did not need a warrant to get it.
Burns has pleaded not guilty to First Degree Murder. He was arrested in December 2018 for the death of 18-year old Michelle Martinko in 1979. Burns is accused of stabbing Martinko in her parents’ car in the parking lot of Westdale Mall in Cedar Rapids.
Cedar Rapids Police investigator Matthew Denlinger has been working on the case since 2015. Denlinger says out of about 125 potential suspects, all of them were no longer persons of interest once they were shown a DNA profile found through a database. Denlinger says they eventually narrowed it down to Burns and his two brothers. Investigators later followed Burns to Pizza Ranch in Manchester for lunch, sat down in the booth next to him and waited for him to leave. Denlinger says he “grabbed the cup that Jerry had been drinking out of, brought it back to his table and packaged up the straw right there at the table, took it and sent it to the DCI lab”. Denlinger says because the straw Burns used at the restaurant was disposed, they would not need a warrant to take it.
Denlinger says because of that straw, they had a found a DNA match from the blood found in Martinko’s car in 1979.
The court plans to schedule a second hearing sometime this week. Burns’ trial is scheduled to begin February 10th in Scott County.
story courtesy of coverage partner KCRG