Jury seated in trial of Iowa man accused of killing Michelle Martinko

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SCOTT Co., Iowa (KWQC) - A jury is now seated for the trial of the man accused of fatally stabbing a Cedar Rapids teenager more than 40 years ago.

Jerry Burns, 65, of Manchester, is accused of killing Michelle Martinko, 18, almost 40 years ago. (Cedar Rapids Police Department)

Jerry Burns, 66, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Michelle Martinko in Linn County.

Martinko was last seen alive on Dec. 19. 1979, at Westdale Mall in Cedar Rapids.

The next day, Cedar Rapids police found her body in her parents’ vehicle in the mall parking lot. She had suffered multiple stab wounds.

According to an arrest affidavit, Burns’ DNA was found at the scene.

He was interviewed at work in Delaware County on Dec. 19, 2018, and
initially denied being present at the crime scene on the night Martinko was killed.

Burns also could not offer any plausible explanation of why his DNA would be found at the crime scene, according to the affidavit.

Court documents show his attorney filed a motion in November for a change of venue from Linn County and argued that pretrial publicity made it unlikely he could receive a fair trial there.

A judge granted the motion in December.

Around 90 people sat in the courtroom Tuesday, and the questioning was focused on a group of around 40. Prosecutors and the defense questioned the potential jurors. By Tuesday afternoon, the list had been narrowed down to 12 jurors, with three alternates.

Opening statements will start at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.