Joseph Oberhansley trial: Indiana man accused of killing, mutilating and eating body parts of his ex girlfriend, Tammy Jo Blanton as court decides if defendant was mentally competent.
## Update: 7.20pm EST: The judge presiding over the trial of an Indiana man accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend and eating her body parts declared a mistrial Thursday.
Defense lawyers for Joseph Oberhansley, 38, made the request after a prosecution witness mentioned Oberhansley’s criminal history and past drug use. Clark County Circuit Judge Vicki Carmichael said the testimony could have prejudiced the jury- FoxNews reported.
## Original story: 12.54pm: An Indiana man has maintained his innocence as prosecutors accuse him of killing his ex-girlfriend, mutilating and eating body parts — including her heart and brain — after she ended their relationship.
Joseph Oberhansley, 38, left the dismembered body of Tammy Jo Blanton, 46, in a bathtub in her Jeffersonville home in September 2014 with 25 stab wounds or blunt-force injuries just days after she broke off their relationship and changed locks, Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull told jurors Wednesday during opening statements in Oberhansley’s murder trial, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports.
‘Joseph Oberhansley butchered Tammy Blanton like you wouldn’t kill a livestock animal,’ Mull said. ‘But this lady died with dignity.’
Mull said Blanton locked herself in a bathroom before Oberhansley kicked a door down and attacked her — a week after holding her captive and raping her. The man’s actions – including her alleged rape – according to Mull, had all been intentional, after breaking into Blanton’s home ‘to talk some sense into her,’ Mull told jurors, according to the News and Tribune.
Mull asserted he intended to provide the court with evidence corroborating the prosecution’s case.
History of prior violence:
Arrest documents at the time – among many macabre details – described police finding a ‘plate with what appeared to be skull bone and blood’ on it, as well as a ‘skillet and pair of tongs with blood on the handles.’
Oberhansley had previously been convicted for the killing of his 17-year-old girlfriend and shooting her mother near Salt Lake City in 1998. He was free on parole after serving a 13-year prison sentence when he entered into a relationship with the victim.
— Katrina Helmer (@KatrinaWDRB) August 21, 2019
Indiana Cannibalism Trial: Too crazy to be guilty?
As Oberhansley was ushered into court on Wednesday the man was overheard telling reporters he was not guilty, ‘otherwise prosecutors would have sough the death penalty.’
He then went on to blame the murder and mutilation of his ex-girlfriend on two black male suspects according to a tweet by WDRB’s Katrina Helmer.
Addressing the judge, attorneys for Oberhansley insisted that he was incompetent to stand trial while continuing to distrust them. The defense’s claims come despite the accused man being deemed competent last July after spending roughly six months in a psychiatric facility in Indiana.
‘Our client, Mr. Oberhansley, has been exhibiting what we believe is part of his mental illness,’ defense attorney Brent Westerfeld said. ‘He’s delusional and he remains delusional.’
Death penalty vs Insanity Defense:
Oberhansley is facing life in prison without parole if convicted of murder, rape and burglary after stabbing Blanton and eating body parts.
While having originally planned to seek the death penalty in Oberhansley’s trial – prosecutors sought instead to seek life in prison in sentencing as they argued there was a high risk of the case being overturned on appeal due to the defendant’s mental status.
Prosecutors also agreed not to seek the death penalty after Oberhansley’s attorney’s agreed to not use an insanity defense, the Courier-Journal reports.
Nevertheless the defense insisted jurors ‘need to question’ whether a person who ate parts of his ex-girlfriend is ‘thinking right,’ Bart Betteau argued Wednesday.
‘All I want you to do is to keep an open mind,’ the defense attorney told jurors, adding that more gruesome details in the case will follow. ‘[The prosecutor] told you about a few statements, select evidence. But there’s going to be a whole lot more.’
Oberhansley’s trial had been scheduled to resume early Thursday.