High-Profile lawyer to defend Burns

An Iowa City criminal defense attorney known for representing high-profile clients will defend the man accused of killing 18 year-old Michelle Martinko at Westdale Mall in 1979.


Leon Spies filed to represent Jerry Burns in his first-degree murder case. Police arrested Burns last week, 39 years to the day of Martinko's murder.

Spies has a history of handling high-profile cases. Among his clients are:-Dustin Honken - The only death penalty case in Iowa in the past 45 years. He was convicted of federal drug and murder charges in 2005 and is currently on federal death row.-Nicholas Luerkens - convicted of killing 29 year-old Lynnsey Donald in the Marion Hy-Vee parking lot in 2015. -Abe Satterfield and Cedric Everson - former Hawkeye football players accused of sexually assaulting a woman in a residence hall in 2007. Everson was convicted of a simple assault and served a week in jail. Satterfield took a plea deal and avoided jail time.-John Bloomfield - charged in 2013 with murdering his wife in Iowa City in 1997 but died before trial.-Jane Barto - former Iowa Workforce Development director charged with federal obstruction of justice charges for a scandal with a contractor called CIETC.

Spies is a graduate of the University of Iowa law school and a partner at Spies, Pavelich and Foley law firm in Iowa City.

Police say genealogy DNA led them to Burns, using blood splatter found in the car where Martinko's body was found.