The former roommate of accused murderer Joshua Hupperterz — whose lawyer contends was the actual killer of Jenna Burleigh — told jurors Thursdaythat he was asleep in his basement-level bedroom when investigators believe the Temple University student was beaten, stabbed, and strangled upstairs in the kitchen of the men’s North Philadelphia apartment.
Jack Miley said he didn’t even hear her screams.
Speaking in a soft but firm voice, Miley, 24, said he and Hupperterz planned to go out for a night of drinking at Temple-area bars on the night of Aug. 30, 2017. But first, he took half a Xanax pill and drank some beer, he said. They went to one bar, then ended up at Pub Webb on Cecil B. Moore Avenue.
Miley said he left Pub Webb before Hupperterz, and went home “very drunk, very intoxicated.” Overall, he had multiple beers, shots of liquor, and was under the influence of marijuana, he said. A residential surveillance video showed that he returned to their North 16th Street apartment building shortly after 1 a.m. Aug. 31.
“When you got home, what did you do?” asked Assistant District Attorney Danielle Burkavage.
“I went to sleep,” testified Miley.
Miley is expected to be a critical witness for both the prosecution and Hupperterz, the 30-year-old former Temple student accused of killing Burleigh, a 22-year-old from Harleysville, Montgomery County, and trying to hide her body on his grandmother’s Poconos property after she cut short their sexual encounter.
While Hupperterz has pleaded guilty to charges related to transferring Burleigh’s body, his lawyer, David Nenner, told jurors in opening arguments that it was Miley who fatally strangled the screaming young woman in the kitchen of their apartment. Miley has not been implicated or charged in the crime.
Miley, a Temple alumnus who shared a first-floor rear apartment with Hupperterz, testified that after he returned from Pub Webb, he went to his bedroom, fell asleep with his fan on at high speed by his bed, and didn’t hear Hupperterz return home. He told jurors he’s a “deep sleeper” even when he’s sober.
Around 4 a.m., “did you hear anything at all?” Burkavage asked. “A scream, a struggle?”
“No,” said Miley.
Surveillance video from Pub Webb showed that Hupperterz and Burleigh left the bar and returned to his apartment shortly after 2 a.m.
Prosecutors contend that at some point, Hupperterz and Burleigh had consensual sex, but it turned nonconsensual when he tried to have anal sex with her. Her refusal triggered a violent fight in which Hupperterz began beating Burleigh, she grabbed a kitchen knife to defend herself, then he grabbed it and stabbed her, continued to pummel her, and strangled her on the kitchen floor, Assistant District Attorney Jason Grenell said in his opening statement Tuesday.
But when asked by Burkavage on Thursday whether Hupperterz had asked him for help about 4 a.m., Miley replied: “No.”
Miley testified that he woke up about 1 p.m. that day, typical for him after a night of heavy drinking, and saw Hupperterz cleaning up blood from the kitchen counter and floor.
“He had a big cut on his hand" and scratches on his neck, Miley said.
Hupperterz’s explanation? “He said that he woke up in a pricker bush,” said Miley.
Miley testified that later that day, he planned to drive to New York with his two sisters for the Labor Day weekend.
When his older sister, Courtney, and younger sister, Kristy, came in the late afternoon to his apartment, which they had never seen, he gave them a tour. In the first-floor living room, he said, his sister Courtney sat on a futon, which was covered with some kind of blanket. Then she “got up real quick,” he testified, because she realized she had blood on her.
(A police crime scene officer had earlier testified about finding blood spots in the living room, which prosecutors attribute to the struggle between Hupperterz and Burleigh.)
Miley testified that after about an hour in the apartment, he and his sisters left for dinner and later left for New York.
The next afternoon, Sept. 1, he said he was awoken by a phone call from a Temple police officer who told him that Burleigh was missing and that she was last seen leaving Pub Webb with Hupperterz.
Miley said he called Hupperterz, and his roommate told him he was in North Carolina. Hupperterz also changed the story behind his hand injury, Miley said, this time blaming a broken cereal bowl.
Law-enforcement authorities that day later traced Hupperterz’s cell phone to Wayne County in the Poconos. Prosecutors say that after stuffing Burleigh’s body in a blue plastic storage bin in his apartment, Hupperterz transported it to his grandmother’s wooded lakeside property in the Poconos, and hid it in a shed.