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Jerry Burns hires “Making a Murderer” lawyer to appeal Michelle Martinko conviction

Chicagoland Attorney Kathleen Zellner has confirmed to KCRG-TV9 that her office is now representing Burns and plans to appeal Burns’ conviction
Published: Jan. 20, 2021 at 8:01 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Jerry Burns, convicted of murdering 18-year-old Michelle Martinko in 1979, has hired a lawyer famous for representing Steven Avery-one of the subjects in Netflix’s “Making of a Murderer” true crime documentary series-to appeal his February 2020 conviction.

Chicagoland Attorney Kathleen Zellner confirmed to KCRG-TV9 on Wednesday that her office is now representing Burns and plans to appeal Burns’ conviction. Her website states that “In 23 years, Kathleen Zellner has righted more wrongful prosecutions than any private attorney in America.”

A jury found Burns guilty of first-degree murder on February 24, 2020 for Martinko’s death.

Martinko, a senior at Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, was found stabbed to death inside her car parked near the Westdale Mall on December 19, 1979.

She was last seen by friends while she was shopping at the mall. After she didn’t come home that night, her parents reported her missing to police, who found Martinko dead a few hours later.

The infamous cold case remained unsolved for nearly 40 years until breakthroughs in DNA evidence linked Burns to the scene of the crime in 2018. Burns was arrested and charged with first-degree murder on December 19, 2018, 39-years to the day after Martinko was murdered.

Burns pleaded not guilty and authorities were not able to establish how, or if, Burns knew Martinko.

On Friday, August 7, 2020, Burns was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. His lawyers filed a motion for a new trial based on new evidence, but the judge denied that motion. Burns was also ordered to pay $150,000 to the estate of Martinko.

Burns is currently imprisoned in the Anamosa State Penitentiary.

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