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Day 3, Jerry Burns takes witness stand in Martinko hearing

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) -- On the third day of a hearing to suppress evidence in the cold case killing of Michelle Martinko, the man accused of the brutal crime took the witness stand, speaking publicly for the first time.

Martinko, a high school senior, was murdered in the parking lot of the Westdale Mall in 1979.

Jerry Burns, of Manchester, was arrested for the murder on the 39-year anniversary of her death. Details of what led to his arrest were hashed out during day one and two of the hearings to determine if key evidence would be admissible during the trial.

Burns' lawyer requested the hearing, attempting to get pieces of evidence involving his DNA and expert testimony thrown out ahead of the February trial and determine the admissibility of the evidence.

Read more about the circumstances surrounding Burns' arrest here.

Today, Burns' lawyer, Lion Spies continued to question one of the state's expert witness, Randy Cole, whose background as a correctional officer and as a program manager for sexual offenders, may point to a motive.

Cole was asked to consult on the case to review Burns' internet search history from his confiscated computer which revealed deviant, violent pornography preferences, highlighted on day 2.

Spies asked the judge to suppress part of the research Cole used to make his report, pointing out this was a very unusual case.

Next up was CRPD investigator Matthew Denlinger, who had been called to the stand each of the three days.

Denlinger again testified about the importance of Burns' porn preferences to the killing of Marinko.

"We thought it was extremely probative. To that point in the investigation, we were confident who our perpetrator was, so we figured out the who. But with 39-years later, limited information, that's a long time that's gone by. We really didn't have a why, so finding the internet search history with how specific is was, we really thought that was probative," said Denlinger.

Burns' son, James Burns also briefly took the stand. James was at the family business the day Jerry was first questioned by investigators and later arrested.

Finally, Jerry Burns himself took to the stand. He testified regarding statements made in his initial interview, saying he was trying to be corporative.

Recalling telling investigators, "I don't know, test it." after he was asked if his DNA would match the DNA at the crime scene.

"Correct, I had no explanation," said Burns.

Burns also claimed that he did in fact ask for a lawyer during the interview but that investigators didn't help him to do so.

"At this point did you believe investigator Denlinger was honoring your request for a lawyer," said Spies as he read through the transcript.

"No, I must not have asked properly, we were never instructed in school how to ask.....they just seemed to ignore it," said Burns.

However, the state argued that Denlinger pointed out several times the decision was up to him and that Burns was free to make calls as needed.

DNA privacy was also a topic of discussion during today's hearing.

Spies argued that Burns never consented to his DNA being collected from a straw left behind at a Pizza Ranch or to be found through an ancestry site.

However,l the state pointed out that Burns' never reached out to his family to ask for DNA privacy or to avoid using public online databases such as GEDmatch.

That was ultimately how investigators found Burns' after creating a DNA profile from a bloodstain on the back of Martinko's dress.

Next Spies and the state will submit written statements to the judge outlining what evidence should or should not make it into next month's trial.

The judge is expected to make a final ruling on what evidence is admissible and if any will be suppressed sometime next week.

Previous Reports:

Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids

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