Indiana Supreme Court Considers Appeal of Joseph Oberhansley’s Murder Sentence – 89.3 WFPL News Louisville

The Indiana Supreme Court is considering whether a man sentenced to life imprisonment without parole two years ago for killing and dismembering his ex-girlfriend should get a shorter sentence.

In 2020 there was a jury 41-year-old Joseph Oberhansley guilty of murder and burglary more than six years after he broke into Tammy Jo Blanton’s home, stabbed her to death and ate parts of her organs.

His lawyers appealed a week after his conviction. The case was referred to the Indiana Supreme Court last week. Appeals attorneys argue that insufficient weight was given to Oberhansley’s “serious mental illness” in the sentencing. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and suffered a permanent brain injury after attempting suicide more than 20 years ago.

“Oberhansley suffers from a severe and debilitating mental illness that causes him to become so disconnected from reality that he felt he had to kill Tammy and eat her organs to reach a higher level of consciousness and strength,” it reads in a letter of appeal. “Any penalty imposed in this case would not change what Oberhansley did. Nevertheless, it is inappropriate to sentence him to life imprisonment.”

The attorneys also argue that the jury failed to return a document called the sentencing form, which shows that the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating factors, a finding required for life without parole in Indiana.

His attorneys had planned to use an insanity defense but withdrew it when Oberhansley argued against it before trial. He originally faced the death penalty, but prosecutors withdrew it as part of an agreement that banned the defense from using mental health evidence at trial.

In the six years prior to his conviction, Oberhansley was found unfit to stand trial several times and was admitted to Logansport State Hospital to have his competence restored. Competence means that an accused is able to participate in his defense and assist his lawyers.

In an October response to the appeal motion, prosecutors argued that the jury failed due process, which they say was “duly and repeatedly instructed that they must determine that the aggravating circumstances outweigh the extenuating circumstances in order to obtain life without.” Parole recommended,” the filing reads.

They also say that although Oberhansley was diagnosed and treated for mental illness after Blanton’s death, “his mental illness does not outweigh the gruesome and brutal nature of the crime and Oberhansley’s deliberate and planned pursuit of Tammy for at least four days prior to the murder.” ”

Oberhansley was arrested in September 2014 after police found her mutilated body in the bathtub during a social check at Blanton’s home. Oberhansley opened the door for officers and told them two men had broken in and killed Blanton. He later said he killed her and ate parts of her organs, but testified during the process that the confession was coerced.

The discovery of her body came hours after Blanton called police to report Oberhansley on an attempted break-in. She had broken up with him a few days earlier and exchanged the locks. The responding officers asked Oberhansley to leave, and he did.

Blanton’s death came two years after Oberhansley was released from prison in Utah. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2000 after fatally shooting his 17-year-old girlfriend, Sabrina Elder, after she gave birth to their child. He then turned the gun on his mother, who survived, and on himself.

Oberhansley’s attorneys are asking that the case be remanded to the trial court in hopes that a judge will give a shorter sentence.