A judge this week ruled that prosecutors cannot introduce the internet-search history of a Manchester man charged in the killing of an 18-year-old high school student 40 years ago
Court documents state that investigators, shortly after arresting Jerry L. Burns, now 66, in 2018 “found search and browsing history involving blonde females, assault, rape, strangulation, murder, abuse and rape for a deceased individual and cannibalism” under his username.
Iowa District Court Judge Fae Hoover Grinde determined that the timing of the internet activity — conducted at least 38 years after the killing of blond-haired Michelle Martinko, 18, in Cedar Rapids — and its “unduly prejudicial” nature would “diminish, if not eliminate, Jerry Burns’ right to due process and a fair trial.”
Police arrested Burns on Dec. 19, 2018, 39 years to the day that Martinko was stabbed 21 times. Her body was found the next day inside her family’s car at a Cedar Rapids mall.
Investigators reported tying Burns to the crime via DNA from blood found on Martinko’s clothes and on the gear shift knob of the vehicle.
Burns has denied being present at the crime scene but “could not offer any plausible explanation why his DNA would be found at the crime scene,” according to court documents. He has pleaded not guilty.
His next court hearing is set for Friday, Feb. 7. His trial remains set for Monday, Feb. 10, in Davenport after Burns successfully argued for a change of venue from Linn County due to pretrial publicity.