Been expecting a case like this to pop up – Use of genealogy in Iowa cold case conviction of Jerry Lynn Burns was unconstitutional, motion for new trial says: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2020/06/16/jerry-burns-investigation-conviction-unconstitutional-michelle-martinko/3197966001/. No way telling how the Supreme Court will rule as it’s only a matter of time before one of these DNA cases winds up making it that high. There are some other issues that will muddy the issue if this case makes it that far that are not DNA related.
There will be some challenges since most judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement have limited information on DNA evidence. Also, some judges rely on the lack of information by prosecutors in allowing broad search warrant access when it needs to be more narrowly focused.
Tyler J. Davis Des Moines Register June 16, 2020
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.
Nick Maybanks, first assistant attorney in the Linn County Attorney’s Office, said prosecutors will be filing a motion for resistance, but declined to comment further.
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.
Genetic testing was key to the state’s case against Burns. Experts in 2018 built a male profile based on DNA left at the scene of Martinko’s death. After genealogy websites proved helpful in the investigation of the Golden State Killer, Iowa investigators asked Parabon-NanoLabs, which had access to hundreds of thousands of genetic samples people uploaded, to see if there was a match in its database.