Jack Miley said he didn’t remember everything from a September 2017 phone conversation he had with his roommate, Joshua Hupperterz, not long after prosecutors say Hupperterz brought Temple University student Jenna Burleigh home from a nearby pub, then beat and strangled her in their North Philadelphia apartment.
But he did remember something.
“He did say to me, ‘I’m the sweetest guy in Pub Webb. I would never hurt anybody,’” Miley told jurors Friday.
His testimony came at the end of the first week of Hupperterz’s murder trial and as the defendant’s lawyer, David Nenner, tried to bolster his contention that it was not Hupperterz but his roommate who killed Burleigh after she refused to stop screaming in their apartment kitchen.
Hupperterz is accused of beating, stabbing, and strangling the 22-year-old woman, a transfer student who lived with her parents in Harleysville, Montgomery County, after they returned to his first-floor apartment from a bar and she cut short their sexual encounter. Hupperterz has admitted transporting her body to his grandmother’s Poconos property, but has pleaded not guilty to killing her.
Miley has not been charged or implicated. Prosecutors have said Hupperterz’s accusations against his roommate are a lie; Miley on Thursday told the Philadelphia jury of seven men and five women that after a night of heavy drinking, he was sleeping so deeply in his basement-level bedroom on Aug. 31, 2017, he didn’t hear Burleigh’s screams for help and didn’t even know she had been in the apartment. He also said he never met her.
Nenner sought Friday to poke holes in that account. Looking at phone records, Nenner questioned whether Miley actually went right to sleep after he returned home shortly after 1 a.m. from Pub Webb, the bar where he had gone with his roommate and where Burleigh was last seen leaving with Hupperterz shortly after 2 a.m.
Nenner noted that between 1 and 2 a.m. that night, while still at the bar, Hupperterz tried to call and text Miley, and that Miley tried to call Hupperterz a few times. His last call to Hupperterz was at 1:43 a.m. The roommates weren’t able to reach each other during the calls.
Miley testified that he didn’t recall trying to reach Hupperterz, but acknowledged that the phone records showed he did. “I must have not been fully asleep yet,” Miley said.
Prosecutors contend that what began as consensual sex between Hupperterz and Burleigh turned violent and then deadly around 4 a.m., when she rebuffed his attempts for anal sex. Hupperterz beat Burleigh, stabbed her, smashed a cereal bowl on top of her head, and strangled her on the kitchen floor, Assistant District Attorney Jason Grenell has said.
Nenner also asked Miley if at any time that night after he went to bed, if he ever heard “any kind of pounding, any kind of noise?”
As he testified Thursday under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Danielle Burkavage, Miley again said: “No.”
Appearing on the offensive at times Friday and looking directly at Nenner, Miley said that he tried to call Hupperterz on the afternoon of Sept. 1 after a Temple police captain called him about Burleigh’s disappearance and how she was last seen leaving Pub Webb with Hupperterz. Miley, who by then was in New York with relatives for the Labor Day weekend, said Hupperterz called him right back.
Hupperterz said he was in North Carolina. Miley said he told his roommate to call police.
Later that day, at 9:22 p.m., Hupperterz called Miley. At that point, Miley has said, he only knew that Burleigh was missing.
It was during that call that Hupperterz said he “would never hurt anybody,” but also said that he didn’t know anything about the missing woman, Miley testified.
Hupperterz, he said, “told me he had nothing to do with it.”
Authorities have said that after Hupperterz killed Burleigh, he stuffed her body into a blue plastic storage bin at his apartment, transported it to his grandmother’s home, then hid the bin in a shed by the lake.
Pennsylvania State Police Cpl. Benjamin Clark told jurors he was notified to go to a lakeside home in Wayne County on Sept. 1 because Philadelphia authorities needed help in a missing-person case and believed Hupperterz was at the home.
Clark said he and a trooper found Hupperterz at the home — his grandmother’s — and told him they were there to speak to him about Burleigh.
“He claimed to be too intoxicated to have any recollection of that night,” Clark testified.
Hupperterz, though, agreed to go to the nearby Dunmore barracks to further speak with the troopers. Detectives from Philadelphia arrived early on Sept. 2 and brought Hupperterz back to the city.