Forensic DNA expert testifies in trial of man accused of killing Temple student

Kristen Johanson
January 14, 2019 - 7:58 pm
Joshua Hupperterz

Philadelphia Police

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Crime scene unit investigators and scientists in Philadelphia’s crime lab took the stand Monday to testify in the murder trial of the man accused of beating, stabbing and strangling a Temple University student in August 2017. 

Joshua Hupperterz’s step-grandfather took the stand and told jurors he was inspecting problematic lily pads along the lake shoreline property of Hupperterz’s grandmother's when he looked inside the shed and saw a blue plastic storage container.

He told the jury “I wish I never did it, but I opened the lid," and explained how he found the victim - Jenna Burleigh - inside, naked and covered in a leopard print blanket. (The victim’s mother was not present in the court room and was later heard wailing outside.)

Prosecutors put up pictures of the victim, found beaten, stabbed and strangled, her body contorted to fit inside the bin.

A state trooper who was present at the autopsy testified that the medical examiner took nail clippings from each of Burleigh’s hands. Later, a Philadelphia forensic scientist and DNA expert took the stand and said that the genetic profile swabbed from the nail clippings was Hupperterz’s DNA and not that of his roommate, Jack Miley, who the defense has pointed to as being the real killer.

The expert also matched Hupperterz’s genetic profile with several pieces of evidence found in the apartment, including a knife found next to the sink.

RELATED: Jurors hear from key witness in trial of man accused of killing Temple student

The defense has motioned to call a toxicologist to testify about the effects of what Miley testified to having the night Burleigh was killed.  

Miley has said he had a milligram of Xanax, more than a dozen beers and six shots of whiskey, and the defense say that there have been reports that the combination would make someone hostile.  

Prosecutors argued against it, saying that what Miley consumed is not new to the defense, and it's too late.  

But the judge says if the defense can provide evidence of what they contend, they may be able to call the toxicologist. 

The DNA expert, who works with the city, will continue testimony through Tuesday morning, with several other pieces expected to be presented.