UPDATE – Jan. 21, 2019 at 10:45 p.m.
Joshua Hupperterz’s lawyer is looking into appealing the former student’s life sentence for killing Temple University junior Jenna Burleigh in August 2017, 6abc reported.
A Philadelphia judge sentenced Hupperterz to life in prison without parole, the maximum time allowed under Pennsylvania law, on Thursday. Defense Attorney David Nenner could not be reached for comment despite multiple attempts.
It took the jury about two hours to convict Hupperterz of first-degree murder, possession of the instrument of crime, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence.
“It was quite evident to anyone who listened to these proceedings that this was an outrageous and terrible crime,” Court of Common Pleas Judge Glenn Bronson said during sentencing. “The level of brutality was shocking even to me, a person who has been doing this for a long time.”
“You just extinguished the life of a person who wanted to give back in this world,” Bronson told Hupperterz, looking him in the eyes. “Now, she never will.”
Nenner maintained during the trial that Hupperterz’s roommate Jack Miley, intoxicated from alcohol and Xanax, an anti-anxiety medication, came upstairs in the roommates’ 16th Street apartment near Cecil B. Moore Avenue and strangled Burleigh to defend Hupperterz.
“Jack Miley is the key to this case,” Nenner said during closing arguments on Thursday.
“I never touched that woman,” Miley testified on Jan. 11. Assistant District Attorney Jason condemned the defense’s argument that Miley killed Burleigh. Miley, a senior kinesiology major, was never charged with crimes related to the murder.
Miley and members of his family sat with Burleigh’s family, who read victim impact statements on Thursday.
Burleigh’s friends and family said her life was dedicated to giving back to those in need. Her caring personality inspired her family to start the nonprofit, Jenna’s Blessing Bags Foundation, which collects personal care items and distributes them to people experiencing homelessness.
“She was my sunshine,” said Ed Burleigh, Jenna Burleigh’s father. “She has done more in her short life than most people do in theirs.”
Jenna Burleigh’s older sister, Janelle Burleigh, read an excerpt from Jenna Burleigh’s blog.
“I don’t want to just go through the motions in life,” Jenna Burleigh wrote. “In the end, being a good person is what really counts.”
Jaqui Burleigh, Jenna Burleigh’s mother, told stories of her daughter’s kindness. While her daughter has made her a better person, a piece of the Burleigh family will always be missing, she said.
“As a mom, you have dreams and images of what your child will be when they grow up,” Jaqui Burleigh said. “My dreams were shattered.”
Jenna Burleigh was an activist and cared about causes like LGBTQ and women’s rights, said Shaylynn Nolan, a friend of hers. Nolan also read from Jenna’s blog.
“I will be the one to make a change in this world, however small that is,” Jenna Burleigh wrote. “Our body is but a vessel that keeps us in this reality.”
Outside the Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice after Thursday’s sentencing, Grenell praised the Burleigh family for their “strength and poise” during the trial.
“This has been justice,” he said.
Although Nenner maintained Miley was involved in Jenna Burleigh’s death, video surveillance showed her and Hupperterz leaving Pub Webb, a bar on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 16th Street around 2 a.m. on Aug. 31, 2017, and going into Hupperterz’s apartment. Jenna Burleigh was reported missing during the day on Aug. 31.
Jenna Burleigh’s body was found on Sept. 2 in a blue plastic storage container on Hupperterz’s grandmother’s Wayne County, Pennsylvania property. Forensic analysts testified that they did not identify any of Miley’s DNA on Jenna Burleigh or in blood samples found in the apartment.
“There is only one man responsible for her brutal murder,” Grenell said. “That was Joshua Hupperterz. Through his attempts to pin this crime on an innocent man, the jury saw through that.”