A new trial is now underway for an Indiana man accused of raping and butchering his ex-girlfriend before eating parts of her body – as jurors have already been warned they will be shown crime scene photos worse than any horror film.
Joseph Oberhansley’s murder trial started in Clark County in southern Indiana on Friday.
The 36-year-old is charged with murder, rape, abuse of a corpse and burglary in the 2014 death of his 46-year-old ex-girlfriend Tammy Jo Blanton.
Oberhansley’s first trial ended abruptly late last year when the judge declared a mistrial after a prosecution witness brought up his past drug use and prison time while testifying in front of jurors.
Jurors in the second trial have been selected from Allen County in the state’s north-east because of the intense media coverage the case has received in southern Indiana.
Joseph Oberhansley’s murder trial started in Clark County in southern Indiana on Friday. The 36-year-old is charged with murder, rape, abuse of a corpse and burglary in the 2014 death of his 46-year-old ex-girlfriend Tammy Jo Blanton
As his second trial got underway, Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull told jurors in his opening remarks that they would see photos of the 2014 crime scene that are ‘worse than anything you would see in a horror movie’.
He said the victim ‘met a fate that’s very difficult to describe’ at the hands of Oberhansley.
Defense attorney Bart Betteau asked jurors to be wary of ’emotional evidence’ that wasn’t relevant to the facts in the killing.
Oberhansley is accused of breaking into Blanton’s home on September 11, 2014 and then raping and fatally stabbing her.
He then allegedly ate parts of her body, including her brain.
Blanton’s body was found by police in her bathtub with parts of her skull removed.
Officers also found a ‘plate with what appeared to be skull bone and blood’ on it. A skillet, a pair of tongs with blood on the handles and tissue were in the rubbish bin.
An autopsy revealed Blanton died from multiple stab wounds and that parts of her heart, lungs and brain were missing.
Joseph Oberhansley is accused of breaking into Tammy Jo Blanton’s home before raping and fatally stabbing her. He then allegedly ate parts of her body, including her brain
Blanton’s body was found by police in her bathtub with parts of her skull removed. Oberhansley is charged with murder, rape, abuse of a corpse and burglary in her death
Police have previously said Oberhansley admitted to the crimes, including ‘cooking a section of her brain and eating it’. Authorities also say he devoured parts of the victim’s heart and lung.
Oberhansley, however, insists he is innocent.
Witnesses who have testified so far include two officers who responded to her home the day of the killing and a 911 dispatcher who fielded Blanton’s call, in which she told the dispatcher that Oberhansley was trying to break into her home.
A police officer who arrested Oberhansley told jurors that they found a knife and a brass knuckle device in his pocket that had blood and blonde hair on it.
Blanton’s coworker Tessa Shepherd, who was among the last to see the victim alive, told jurors that Blanton had told her she had been raped by the accused prior to her murder.
Sabrina Hall, another co-worker and friend of Blanton’s, has testified that she called police after a man she believes was Oberhansley answered Blanton’s phone the day her friend died.
She said time moved ‘super fast and super slow at the same time’ as she waited for officers to confirm what she believed had happened.
Oberhansley’s first trial ended abruptly late last year when the judge declared a mistrial after a prosecution witness brought up his past drug use and prison time while testifying in front of jurors
At the time of the murder, Oberhansley was free on parole for fatally gunning down his girlfriend Sabrina Elder, 17, in a drug-fueled jealous rage in 1998.
He also shot his mother in the back and fired at his sister before tucking the weapon under his chin and pulling the trigger to give himself a ‘partial lobotomy’.
Oberhansley was found mentally not competent in October 2017 to be tried. He was hospitalized for more than six months at Logansport State Hospital after the judge ruled he wasn’t capable of participating in the trial.
But last year, a doctor from Logansport filed a report certifying that Oberhansley was competent and he was released back to police custody.
In November 2018, a judge decided that Oberhansley was fit to stand trial based off the doctor’s report, which found his competency had been restored during his time at the psychiatric hospital.
Oberhansley was set to stand trial in August 2019 but a mistrial was declared during the first day of testimony after a witness for the state spoke of things that attorneys had agreed would not be mentioned to the jury.
If he is convicted by the jury in this current, Oberhansley will face a sentence of life in prison.