Witness statement leads to mistrial in cannibalism murder case

Witness statement leads to mistrial in cannibalism murder case
Joseph Oberhansley being lead to court on Aug. 22, 2019 for the first full day of testimony in his murder trial. (Source: Michael Flynn, WAVE 3 News)

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WAVE) - A judge has declared a mistrial in the trial of a man accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend and then eating parts of her body after testimony from a witness gave information the jury wasn’t supposed to hear.

Joseph Oberhansley is charged with killing Tammy Jo Blanton, 46, on Sept. 11, 2014, in her Jeffersonville home. Blanton’s body was found in her bathtub by police sent to check on her welfare after co-workers became concerned when she didn’t show up for work.

Tammy Jo Blanton (Source: Facebook)
Tammy Jo Blanton (Source: Facebook)

Investigators said Oberhansley admitted to eating parts of Blanton’s brain and other organs during an interview with police.

During testimony Thursday, Donna Victoria said Blanton called her the Monday before her death and had come to her home to stay for a few days. Victoria testified that Blanton told her Oberhansley had held Blanton hostage all weekend and had raped her.

Victoria said Blanton said she did not call police because she didn’t want Oberhansley to go back to prison. She also said Blanton had mentioned previous drug use by Oberhansley.

The statement about Oberhansley’s criminal past and drug use led to an immediate halt to the proceedings because jurors were not supposed to hear evidence of that nature.

The 15-member jury from Hamilton County was removed from the courtroom as attorneys argued Judge Vicki Carmichael about what needs to happen next. Prosecutors are asking for the court to admonish the jury while defense attorneys sought a mistrial.

The selection of a new jury is expected to begin quickly, perhaps within days. It is not immediately known from which county the new jury will be selected.

This story will be updated.

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