Closing arguments expected in Iowa cold case murder trial

Closing arguments are expected Monday in the trial of a man accused of killing an Iowa high school student more than 40 years ago

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Closingarguments are expected Monday in the Iowa cold case trial of a man accused of killing a high school student more than 40 years ago.

Testimony concluded Friday in the trial of Jerry Burns, 66. He’s accused of fatally stabbing 18-year-old Michelle Martinko on Dec. 19, 1979, in Cedar Rapids. Her lungs and aorta were pierced, and she lost about a third of her blood, according to testimony.

Burns didn’t testify, and his defense called only one witness: forensic consultant Michael Spence, The Gazette reported. Spence said the blood concentration that prosecutors say matched Burns’ DNA was so low that he didn’t think it could come from someone cutting himself during the stabbing. Spence said he didn’t know whether the DNA came from blood or from another bodily fluid such as mucus or saliva.

A rebuttal witness called by prosecutors said Friday that the only biological fluid screened was blood from Martinko’s dress. Paul Bush, a criminalist supervisor with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, testified that the DNA in the blood matched that of Burns.

The trial was moved to Scott County District Court in Davenport because of pretrial publicity in Cedar Rapids.

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