Jenna Burleigh’s father takes stand in Hupperterz trial

In the seventh day of his murder trial, Hupperterz waived his right to testify and Judge Glenn Bronson denied the defense’s motion for a mistrial.

Ed and Jaqui Burleigh leave the Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice during lunch break on Wednesday. | WILL BLEIER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Ed Burleigh testified on Wednesday about the last time he saw his daughter, Jenna Burleigh, before she was murdered in August 2017.

Assistant District Attorney Danielle Burkavage questioned Ed Burleigh about his daughter’s physical appearance on Aug. 30, 2017, the evening before her death. Burkavage also asked whether he had contact with Jenna Burleigh after giving her a final hug that night.

“We had not heard from her,” Ed Burleigh said during a brief testimony.

Jaqui Burleigh, Jenna Burleigh’s mother, cried as her husband spoke.

Wednesday marked the seventh day of Joshua Hupperterz’s murder trial for allegedly killing Temple University junior Jenna Burleigh. Chief Medical Examiner Sam Gulino testified Tuesday that she was strangled to death.

David Nenner, Hupperterz’s defense attorney, claims Hupperterz’s former roommate, Jack Miley, killed Jenna Burleigh while under the influence of a mixture of drugs and alcohol.

Ed Burleigh testified that he traveled to Main Campus on Aug. 30 to help his daughter with car trouble. Her car was towed from a campus parking garage, and after eating dinner together at the Draught Horse, Ed Burleigh said goodbye to his daughter for the last time.

Jenna Burleigh’s friends notified her parents on Aug. 31 that they hadn’t heard from her since the night before, and Ed and Jacqui Burleigh filed a missing person report in Lower Salford Township, Pennsylvania. Temple Police instructed Jenna Burleigh’s parents to file the report in their hometown, as she was a commuter student, Ed Burleigh said.

Before the jury was called in to begin trial on Wednesday, Nenner argued that expert defense witness Dr. Kenneth Levy, a psychiatrist, should be allowed to testify on whether the substances in Miley’s system could have led to homicidal behavior.

Nenner’s goal was for Levy to establish how Miley, in an intoxicated state, could have killed Burleigh and not remembered it.

Assistant District Attorney Jason Grenell said the Commonwealth was notified of Levy’s testimony too late, and questioned the psychiatrist’s qualifications as an expert related to Hupperterz’s case.

Assistant District Attorney Jason Grenell speaks to the media as he leaves the Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice during lunch break on Wednesday. | WILL BLEIER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Nenner first contacted Levy via email on Monday to request his expert knowledge. Levy said he spent about 12 hours creating a report for Nenner, which normally takes more time. The information was given to prosecutors late Tuesday night. Levy added the defense paid him $3,000 to create the report.

Court of Common Pleas Judge Glenn Bronson allowed Levy to testify, but prohibited both sides from discussing whether the drug and alcohol mixture Miley consumed could have led to homicidal behavior. Levy said it was possible Miley could have blacked out and forgotten some events during the time of Jenna Burleigh’s death.

Philadelphia Police Detective Thorsten Lucke continued his testimony from Tuesday, showing the jury surveillance footage from five cameras in and around Pub Webb, a bar on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 16th Street, and Hupperterz’s apartment, blocks away from the bar.

The surveillance video showed Hupperterz arriving at the bar, taking a seat next to Jenna Burleigh, talking and ultimately leaving with her at 2:07 a.m. on Aug. 31, 2017. In the video, Hupperterz and Jenna Burleigh take a right onto 16th Street and enter Hupperterz’s apartment.

During the evening on Aug. 31, video surveillance shows Hupperterz and his cousin take a large container, which contained Jenna Burleigh’s body, out of the apartment, load it into a car and drive away.

The defense also called three character witnesses on Wednesday to testify on Hupperterz’s behalf. Hupperterz’s younger brother, mother and childhood friend all said he had a peaceful, nonviolent reputation.

The prosecution was skeptical of all three witnesses, questioning their knowledge of Hupperterz’s reputation without having lived with him near Main Campus.

After the jury departed the room, Nenner motioned for a mistrial, arguing Bronson’s limitations on Levy’s testimony were unfair, among other factors, but Bronson denied Nenner’s request.

Hupperterz waived his right to testify on Wednesday and said he did not want any more witnesses to testify on his behalf during the trial. Hupperterz’s mother waved “goodbye” to him as he was led by police out of the courtroom for the day.

The defense and prosecution will present closing arguments Thursday.

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