Burns Sentenced to Life in Prison for 1979 Cold Case Murder

A Manchester man has been sentenced to life in prison for the 1979 murder of a Cedar Rapids teen.

Jerry Lynn Burns was found guilty in February of First Degree Murder in the death of Michelle Martinko. She had been found stabbed to death in her parents’ car at the Westdale Mall parking lot forty years ago. DNA evidence led investigators to arrest Burns in 2018.

Burns’ attorney, Leon Spies, had filed a motion requesting a new trial. Spies claimed searches and seizures of Burns’ and his family members’ DNA done in the weeks before Burns’ arrest were unconstitutional. He also listed several other reasons, including false testimony from one of the State’s witnesses. The judge denied the request after hearing from both sides on Friday.

She then proceeded with handing Burns the mandatory life sentence, with no possibility of parole. He also has to pay $150,000 to Martinko’s estate.

Burns will be held without bond. He has the right to appeal within 30 days.

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