Testimony continues in trial for man accused of killing Michelle Martinko

Published: Feb. 13, 2020 at 9:14 AM CST
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(WARNING: Some images that appear during the trial may be disturbing to some viewers. Viewer discretion during the livestream is advised.)

A trial is underway for the man accused of killing Cedar Rapids teenager Michelle Martinko more than 40 years ago.

Jerry Burns, 66, faces a first-degree murder charge in the case. Police say Burns fatally stabbed Martinko in her parents' car outside Westdale Mall in December 1979.

Then 18-year-old Michelle Martinko was a senior at Kennedy High School when she died.

The case remained unsolved for 39 years until police obtained DNA from a straw that Burns left at a Manchester restaurant. Investigators say DNA from the straw linked him to bloodstains at the murder scene.

Burns' attorneys argued the DNA evidence should be thrown out because police didn't use a warrant to get the straw. A judge later ruled it could be included.

The trial started at 9 a.m. Tuesday, as legal teams began searching for potential jurors. A judge moved it out of Linn County, due to pre-trial publicity.

The trial is expected to last two weeks.