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PHILADELPHIA, PA — A Philadelphia jury on January 19 found Joshua Hupperterz, 31, guilty of first degree murder and related counts in the death of 22-year-old Jenna Burleigh. Hupperterz allegedly met Burleigh in a bar near Temple University and went home with her. Authorities said he then killed her and transported her body to his grandmother’s property in Paupack Township, Wayne County. The body was discovered on the afternoon of September 2, 2017.
Authorities had accused Hupperterz of killing Burleigh in a bloody fight after the two had sex in Hupperterz’s apartment. The fighting began, according to Assistant District Attorney Jason Grenell, after Burleigh objected to a sex act. The prosecutor said Burleigh grabbed a knife to attempt to ward off Hupperterz, but he punched her 38 times and wrestled the knife away from her. Then he stabbed her twice with the knife before strangling her. Grenell told the jury that Hupperterz strangled Burleigh for three minutes, and if he had let go, she would have lived.
After she was dead, Grenell said Hupperterz used his unwitting cousin to transfer the body to a location in the suburbs, then Hupperterz used a Lyft driver to move it to Wayne County.
Hupperterz’s attorney, David Nenner, tried to convince the jury that the murder might actually have been committed by Hupperterz’s roommate, Jack Miley. But Miley had not been charged with a crime. Miley testified that he fell asleep before Hupperterz returned home—that he had passed out after smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol and taking a Xanax pill. He said he did not hear the violent struggle taking place upstairs.
During closing arguments, Grenell said the suggestion that Miley committed the murder was “absurd,” and he apologized to Miley. He said of Hupperterz, “This man is guilty of first-degree murder.” The Jury believed Grenell and rejected Nenner’s defence.
Common Pleas Judge Glenn Bronson sentenced Hupperterz to life in prison without the possibility of parole.