A man who prosecutors say strangled a university student to death after she cut sex short with him before putting her body in a plastic storage bin and hiding it at his grandma’s home will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Joshua Hupperterz, 30, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole Thursday for the death Temple University student Jenna Burleigh, 22.
Prosecutors said Hupperterz killed Burleigh in his Philadelphia apartment in August 2017, moved her body to his mother's suburban home in a plastic storage container, and later took the remains to his grandmother's home in the Poconos, where they were found. Prosecutors say the two had consensual sex, at first, but at some point Burleigh wanted it to stop. It became nonconsensual and then Hupperterz became violent, prosecutors said. The two met at a bar, according to WPVI in Philadelphia.
Burleigh was killed because she “had the audacity to say no," Prosecutor Jason Grenell said during his closing argument, according to NBC Philadelphia.
Defense attorney David Nenner suggested another man was responsible. He pointed the finger at Hupperterz’ roommate, Fox 29 Philadelphia reports. But prosecutors said DNA evidence and the defendant's actions following the slaying pointed to him as the killer.
The roommate testified last week that he slept through the murder, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Hupperterz may have denied the murder but he did plead guilty to evidence-tampering and abuse of a corpse. He showed no reaction at the reading of the verdict, which came after the panel deliberated for less than an hour and a half.
Before the sentence was imposed, Burleigh's parents, older sister and her friends gave emotional statements about the impact of her death.
"Jenna was a loving, caring, compassionate, sassy, passionate person who was unapologetically herself," said her mother, Jacqueline Burleigh. "All she wanted was peace in this world."
Burleigh was an advocate for social justice issues including women’s rights and the homeless, issues she wrote about on her personal blog, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Jenna’s Blessing Bags Foundation provides people who are homeless with backpacks full of toiletries and other necessities. The foundation was set up in Burleigh’s honor.
Common Pleas Judge Glenn Bronson called her murder "outrageous and depraved and terrible."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
[Photo: Philadelphia Police Department]
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