JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. – As the murder trial for Joseph Oberhansley, 38, began on Wednesday, prosecutors went into grisly details recounting the stalking, rape and murder of Oberhansley’s girlfriend just before Oberhansley allegedly cut open her chest and ate her heart and brain.
According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, in September 2014, Joseph Oberhansley, 38, left the dismembered body of Tammy Jo Blanton, 46, in a bathtub in her Jeffersonville home with multiple stab wounds and blunt-force injuries just days after she broke up with him and changed her locks.
Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull told jurors Wednesday during opening statements that “Joseph Oberhansley butchered Tammy Blanton like you wouldn’t kill a livestock animal.”
Mull showed the jury a videotaped interview in which Oberhansley told police that Blanton “really wasn’t all that scared, surprisingly,” as if she knew she was about to die.
Carmichael is facing life in prison without parole. Prosecutors agreed to not seek the death penalty so long as Oberhandley’s attorneys don’t use insanity as a defense.
However, while the defense was not allowed to present evidence pertaining to Oberhansley’s sanity, his defense attorneys argued whether or not someone who “eats the brain and heart of his ex-girlfriend is thinking right.”
“Her chest had been cut open. The heart was removed. The heart was eaten,” said Oberhansley’s defense attorney Bart Betteau.
On Thursday, Clark County Circuit Judge Vicki Carmichael declared a mistrial after a witness called by prosecutors on the first day of testimony brought up the defendant’s past drug use and time in prison.
Carmichael said that information could have prejudiced the jury.
According to the Journal, the witness was a close friend of Blanton said that Blanton had told her in a previous conversation that drugs motivated him to commit the gruesome acts.
“A simple admonishment to disregard (the comments) would be insufficient and certainly would not clear the prejudices created by the witness’ testimony,” said Carmichael.
The jury had been selected in Hamilton County, about 120 miles (193 kilometers) north of Jeffersonville, which is a suburb of Louisville, Kentucky.
A new court date set for Sept. 3. A new jury will need to be selected.