Closing arguments expected in Iowa cold case murder trial

Jerry Burns, 66, of Manchester

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — Multiple former police investigators and the ex-boyfriend of an 18-year-old girl killed in 1979 took the stand Thursday on the second day of a Manchester man’s murder trial.

Jerry Burns, 66, is accused of fatally stabbing Michelle Martinko on Dec. 19, 1979, in Cedar Rapids. Her body was found the next day inside her family’s car in a mall parking lot.

Burns was arrested in late 2018 after police said DNA evidence linked him to blood found on the dress of the victim and on the gear shift knob of the vehicle in which she was found.

Burns’ attorney, Leon Spies, said DNA does not tell the whole story and that the evidence will show Burns is not guilty.

The testimony in the first-degree murder trial began Wednesday in Scott County, where the trial was moved due to the publicity surrounding the case.

The first witness on the stand Thursday was Michael Wyrick, who took Martinko to prom one year and dated her for a time. Police said one of his hairs was found in Martinko’s car, according to media reports.

Wyrick was followed by James Kinkead, a retired Cedar Rapids police officer. He found Martinko’s body in her car but was not involved in the ensuing investigation, according to a media account of his testimony.

Other former officers and investigators discussed collecting evidence at the scene and the handling of the evidence over the years.

The trial is set to resume at 9 a.m. today. If convicted, Burns faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.