Trial begins for Jerry Burns, accused of killing Michelle Martinko

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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KCRG) - Opening arguments have wrapped up in the case of the man accused of killing Michelle Martinko more than 40 years ago.

Jerry Burns listens to county attorneys in Linn County District Court, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020 in Cedar Rapids. Iowa. Burns is charged with first-degree murder in the 1979 death of Michelle Martinko, and appeared with attorney Leon Spies for a pretrial hearing on a motion to suppress evidence and admissibility of evidence. (Liz Martin/The Gazette via AP, Pool)

Jerry Burns, 66, faces a first-degree murder charge in the case. Police say he 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 is expected to last two weeks in Scott County.

Click below to watch the opening statements: