Man convicted of murder appeals use of DNA to Iowa Supreme Court

Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 5:32 PM CDT
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - The man convicted in the 1979 murder of Michelle Martinko in Cedar Rapids took his appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court.

Jerry Burns’ attorneys say investigators violated the constitution when they took a straw he’d used at a restaurant in Manchester.

DNA from that straw linked burns to the death of Michelle Martinko.

Investigators found her body inside a parked car in the Westdale Mall area in Cedar Rapids in 1979. The murder was a mystery for years, until DNA technology advanced enough to find her killer.

In today’s hearing, attorneys for Burns argued that investigators needed a warrant to take the straw, saying it was still his property when they took it. While the straw wasn’t thrown out, the state argues Burns had discarded it- meaning it was no longer in his possession.

Burns is currently serving a life sentence after a jury convicted him of first-degree murder in 2020.