Michelle Martinko (Courtesy of KCRG TV)

The defense team in the Michelle Martinko murder case opened and rested it case Thursday in Davenport.

Sixty-six-year-old Jerry Burns of Manchester is accused of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Martinko in Cedar Rapids 1979. Prosecution analysts testified that DNA from Burns is consistent with genetic material found on the dress Martinko was wearing when she died.

The defense called forensic genetics consultant Michael Spence as a witness — and he testified it is possible for DNA to be transferred from one person to another in passing, and not necessarily at the time a crime was committed.

“Shaking hands is an easy example. Hugging. At crime scenes there can be transfer events from people who arrive at that crime scene prior the crime scene, during the crime scene, after the crime scene, there can be transfer events,” Spence testified.  “If you touch the other people, if they talk around you, if they leave DNA on an item and you come over and sit down next to it or on it, those kinds of things…this is how transfer events do occur.”

Prosecutors will have the chance to call rebuttal witnesses today. The trial was moved to Scott County on a change of venue.