Iowa man guilty in 1979 killing of high school student

Iowa News

Jerry Burns listens as defense attorney Leon Spies delivers his closing arguments in his trial at the Scott County Courthouse in Davenport on Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. Burns is charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Michelle Martinko in 1979. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette via AP)

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — Jurors have convicted a man of murder in the killing of an Iowa high school student more than 40 years ago.

The Gazette says it took jurors about three hours to convict 66-year-old Jerry Burns of first-degree murder in the December 1979, stabbing death of 18-year-old Michelle Martinko.

Her body was found inside her family’s car at a Cedar Rapids shopping mall.

Police arrested Burns on December 19, 2018, at his Manchester, Iowa, business.

It was the 39th anniversary of Martinko’s death. Burns was linked to the crime by DNA evidence.

Burns didn’t testify, and his defense called only one witness. In Iowa, first-degree murder carries a mandatory term of life in prison.

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