MICHELLE MARTINKO

Manchester man accused of stabbing Michelle Martinko to plead not guilty

Jerry Burns makes his initial appearance via video at Linn County District Court in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018, after his arrest in the 1979 murder of Michelle Martinko. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Jerry Burns makes his initial appearance via video at Linn County District Court in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018, after his arrest in the 1979 murder of Michelle Martinko. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Jerry Lynn Burns, the 64-year-old Manchester man who is charged in the 1979 stabbing death of Michelle Martinko, is set to plead not guilty at his to-be-scheduled arraignment, according to an interview between the Des Moines Register and Burns’ lawyer, Leon Spies.

Burns, a Manchester resident, was charged with first-degree murder in Martinko’s death last week.

Spies, a prominent Iowa City-based attorney began representing Burns’ after Burns’ family “made arrangements” for Spies to represent Burns.

Spies declined to go into detail on what those arrangements were.

The then-18-year-old Martinko’s death captivated the Cedar Rapids community in 1979. Her body was found in her family’s tan 1972 Buick 4-door sedan parked in the parking lot of Westdale Mall.

Coverage from that time stated that “From the medical examiner’s office police learned that the girl was not sexually molested. And while police declined to name a specific amount, enough cash was found in Michelle’s purse to rule out robbery as a murder motive.”

Burns, who made his initial appearance in court on December 20, has his bond set at $5 million cash.

“This case is a prime example that members of this department never gave up and they never will give up on any crime that has been committed against the members of this community,” Chief Wayne Jerman of the Cedar Rapids Police Department said the day prior. “The tenacity and dedication demonstrated by these investigators and officers, along with the ongoing assistance and direction of the Linn County Attorney’s Office is why we are here tonight and why we can close this … tragic case that has been haunting this community for 39 years.”

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