Hupperterz defense arranges evidence in hearing one month before trial

Joshua Hupperterz’s statements to police before he was offered legal counsel will not be used to incriminate him.

Jenna Burleigh (left), a junior film and media arts major, was killed by former student Joshua Hupperterz on Aug. 31. | LEFT VIA TEMPLE POLICE / RIGHT VIA PHILADELPHIA POLICE

Days after Joshua Hupperterz rejected a guilty plea deal, a motions hearing was held for the state’s case against him for the murder of media film and arts major Jenna Burleigh.

If he accepted the plea deal, Hupperterz would have been sentenced 30 to 60 years in prison. He will face a life sentence if he’s found guilty of first- or second-degree murder in the trial, which begins on Jan. 7.

Burleigh was a first-week transfer student from Montgomery County College when she met Hupperterz at Pub Webb, a bar on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 16th Street, the night of Aug. 30, 2017. She left the bar with Hupperterz around 2 a.m. on Aug. 31, 2017, according to security footage taken by Pub Webb and other businesses on Cecil B. Moore Avenue.  

Hupperterz did not appear in court on Friday. Court of Common Pleas Judge Glenn Bronson heard arguments from Hupperterz’s lawyer David Nenner to access video surveillance from a front-door camera on the residence next to Hupperterz’s apartment near Main Campus, where police believe Burleigh was killed.

The video surveillance spans a 12-hour period and shows footage from Sept. 1, 2017 and Sept. 2, 2017. Police believe Hupperterz moved Burleigh’s body twice over those two days: from his apartment to his mother’s home in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, and then to his grandmother’s Wayne County property, where her body was found by the police.

The Commonwealth said police are working through the tapes. It will be decided if the video is ready for Nenner at a motions hearing next week.

Council also discussed the validity of statements made by Hupperterz during a videotaped and recorded interrogation while in custody of the Philadelphia Police Department’s Homicide Unit. The statements will be suppressed during trial, Nenner said, because questioning proceeded before Hupperterz was granted legal counsel. Bronson said the statements will be “presumed involuntary.”

Nenner said Hupperterz allegedly made another statement while he was transported from Wayne County to Philadelphia, and it hasn’t been decided yet if these will be admitted into court.

After Friday’s hearing ended, Assistant District Attorney Danielle Burkavage playfully reminded Nenner to ask Hupperterz “if he’s thought about the offer.”

“Don’t worry, I will,” Nenner quipped back.

After consulting with his client, Nenner told The Temple News Hupperterz has “no inclination” to accept the plea deal and continues to maintain his innocence.

The Court of Common Pleas will hold a final motions hearing in Hupperterz’s case next Friday before the trial begins.

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