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Man found guilty of 1979 murder of Iowa teenager

Jerry Burns
Jerry Burns

DNA evidence linked man to crime 39 years later.

Posted: Feb 24, 2020 8:33 AM
Updated: Feb 24, 2020 7:22 PM

DAVENPORT, Iowa (The Gazette) — Jurors have convicted a man of murder in the killing of an Iowa high school student more than 40 years ago.

It took jurors about three hours to convict 66-year-old Jerry Burns of first-degree murder in the December 1979, stabbing death of 18-year-old Michelle Martinko.

Her body was found inside her family's car at a Cedar Rapids shopping mall. Police arrested Burns on Dec. 19, 2018, at his Manchester, Iowa, business. It was the 39th anniversary of Martinko's death.

Burns was linked to the crime by DNA evidence. Burns didn't testify, and his defense called only one witness. In Iowa, first-degree murder carries a mandatory term of life in prison.

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