Judge Not Allowing Internet Search Evidence in Burns’ Trial

A judge has ruled that internet search evidence cannot be used in the murder trial of a Manchester man.

Jerry Burns is accused of killing 18-year old Michelle Martinko forty years ago in the parking lot of a Cedar Rapids mall. Burns, who is now 66, was charged with First Degree Murder in her death a little over a year ago.

Evidence was presented in recent court hearings, including Burns’ recent internet search history.

Prosecutors say Burns visited websites that showed blonde women being strangled, stabbed and raped – including pornography that depicted sex with murder victims. Investigators said they reviewed a year’s worth of Burns’ search history in 2018 and found Burns visited and viewed these pages often.

The defense for Burns argued his search history from 2018 was irrelevant to a case from 1979, but witnessed argued it was out of the ordinary.

According to our coverage partner KCRG, the judge ruled that the search history evidence would be “unduly prejudicial”, leading to the likelihood of an unfair trial.

Burns’ defense team has also requested that key DNA evidence be thrown out of the case. They say investigators did not have a warrant to obtain a straw used by Burns at the Manchester Pizza Ranch. But investigators say they didn’t need a warrant to get it since it was discarded. Burns’ attorney is also now seeking to prohibit testimony from an inmate at the Linn County Jail named Michael James Allision, as well as an interaction between Burns and investigator Matt Denlinger. The judge has not ruled on either of these motions.

Burns is scheduled to begin trial Monday in Scott County.