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Use of Genealogy DNA in an Iowa Cold Case Conviction Was Unconstitutional, According to the Defense Attorney’s Claims

The state’s use of genetic testing to convict an Iowa man in a 40-year-old cold case was unconstitutional, according to a motion filed in Linn County court.

Jerry Lynn Burns, 66, was found guilty in February of first-degree murder in the 1979 stabbing death of 18-year-old Michelle Martinko in Cedar Rapids. While waiting to receive the mandatory life sentence that comes with a conviction on that charge, Burns’ attorney has asked the court to give the Manchester man a new trial.

“Those were issues that we raised earlier and we wanted to reurge them in hopes that the court reexamines them,” Leon Spies, Burns’ attorney, told the Des Moines Register on Tuesday.

Spies wrote that the jury’s verdict was “contrary” to the weight of evidence, and his client’s constitutional rights were violated by the admission of his statements to investigators the day of his arrest and the use of his and his family’s DNA. The state’s search and seizure of Burns’ and Burns’ family members’ DNA is a violation of the Fourth and 14th Amendments, according to the motion, and the court erred by not suppressing that evidence.

Again, this is a motion filed by a defense attorney seeking a new trial, not a finalized legal finding by the court.

You can read a lot more in an article by Tyler J. Davis in the <em>Des Moines Register</em> website at: <a href=”; target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”></a&gt;.

Categories: DNA, Legal Affairs

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