Very few court cases in the state of Iowa recently have received the attention that the Jerry Burns case did. Burns was convicted in the 1979 murder of Michelle Martinko in February of 2020. Now, Burns has hired a famous lawyer to handle his appeal.

That lawyer, according to KCRG, is Chicagoland lawyer Kathleen Zellner. Zellner also represented Steven Avery, one of the subjects of the Netflix true crime documentary 'Making a Murderer'. Zellner confirmed to KCRG that she will represent Burns when they appeal his conviction. Her website is quoted as saying that "In 23 years, Kathleen Zellner has righted more wrongful prosecutions than any private attorney in America."

KCRG reports that Michelle Martinko was a senior at Kennedy High School in 1979, when she was found stabbed to death inside her car parked near the Westdale Mall. She was last seen by friends who were shopping at the mall. After she failed to come home that night, her parents reported her missing to police. Her body was found just a few hours later.

The case lied cold for some 40 years until breakthroughs in DNA evidence linked Burns to the scene of the crime in 2018. KCRG reports that Burns was arrested and charged with 1st degree murder on December 19th, 2018, 39 years to the day after Martinko was murdered.

On Friday, August 7th, 2020, Burns was sentenced to life in prison without parole. He is currently being held at the State Penitentiary in Anamosa.

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