Michelle Martinko (Courtesy of KCRG TV)

The murder trial in the death of a Cedar Rapids girl in 1979 enters its second day in Scott County.

Sixty-six-year-old Jerry Burns of Manchester is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Michelle Martinko. KCRG TV streamed the trial as the prosecution gave opening arguments Wednesday.

The first witnesses were former Kennedy High School classmates of Martinko — including Jane Hansen. “She was a very nice girl, she was loyal to her friends and boyfriends,” Hansen says. Other classmates testified about seeing Martino at the Westdale Mall on the same night that she was stabbed to death in the parking lot.

Defense attorney Leon Spies also gave opening arguments and said the case against Burns will not stand up.
“The handling of the evidence. The likelihood of the intersection of trails of complete strangers demonstrates that the trails do not inevitably lead to Jerry Lynn Burns,” Spies says.

Martinko was an 18-year-old 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 and say it matched DNA from blood stains at the murder scene. He was arrested in 2018.

The trial was moved to Scott County due to publicity about the case and is expected to last two weeks.