Philadelphia’s chief medical examiner testified that Jenna Burleigh died from strangulation at Joshua Hupperterz’s murder trial on Tuesday.
Chief Medical Examiner Sam Gulino presented photos of Burleigh’s body taken during an autopsy on Sept. 3, 2017. He testified that Burleigh died from strangulation. Other injuries on her body, like scrapes around her mouth and hands, indicated a struggle before her death.
Hupperterz, a former Temple University student, is on trial for Burleigh’s murder. Prosecutors said Hupperterz and Burleigh had consensual sex at his apartment on 16th Street near Cecil B. Moore Avenue in the early morning hours of Aug. 31, 2017 after leaving Pub Webb, a bar on Cecil B. Moore Avenue near 16th Street. During sexual intercourse, Hupperterz allegedly began attacking Burleigh and killed her after a physical fight.
David Nenner, Hupperterz’s attorney, maintains Burleigh attacked Hupperterz first after he attempted anal sex. Nenner said Hupperterz’s roommate Jack Miley came upstairs and strangled Burleigh to protect Hupperterz.
Gulino also said a waffle pattern was indented on Burleigh’s back, indicating that soon after she died, her body was not moved for three to 10 hours. Assistant District Attorney Jason Grenell presented a mat found in Hupperterz’s apartment that had a similar waffle pattern to Burleigh’s back and Gulino said the mat “likely” caused the indent.
Gulino presented a photo of a laceration on Burleigh’s scalp and testified it could have been made by a heavy bowl hit on her head or from being slammed onto a countertop corner.
Police testified on Friday they found blood on broken cereal bowl pieces in Hupperterz’s apartment, but on Monday, forensic analysts said they could not identify any of the DNA found on the bowl.
Gulino said it was “impossible” to tell from the autopsy report whether it was Burleigh or Hupperterz who attacked first.
As photos of Burleigh’s body were shown, her family and friends cried, squeezed stress balls they had brought, or closed their eyes. Burleigh’s mother, Jacqui, left the room before the photos came on screen. Several members of the jury looked away or grimaced when photos of her face were put onto the screen.
Burleigh had a small heart tattoo on her left shoulder which was split and bloodied by a cut.
Philadelphia Police Department Detective Thorsten Lucke also presented Hupperterz’s and Miley’s phone records to the jury on Tuesday. Both Hupperterz’s and Miley’s texts had been previously admitted into evidence.
Final testimony from Lucke, including a video of Burleigh and Hupperterz leaving Pub Webb, will be presented tomorrow. Burleigh’s father, Ed, and a toxicologist are expected to testify before the trial’s closing arguments, which will begin Thursday.
Nenner said Hupperterz may take the stand and make final testimony. On Monday, Criminal Court of Common Pleas Judge Glenn Bronson suggested Hupperterz testify for the second time, because Nenner continues to draw conclusions that can only be proven with Hupperterz’s personal testimony.
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