Oberhansley headed to state mental hospital after delay

Oberhansley headed to state mental hospital after delay
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)

By APRILE RICKERT | News and Tribune

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (News and Tribune) - A man awaiting trial for the 2014 murder and rape of his ex-girlfriend will be sent to a state hospital for competency restoration, after a two-month wait due to COVID-19.

A transport order was issued Tuesday directing the Clark County Sheriff’s Office to transport Joseph Oberhansley to Logansport State Mental Hospital by 10 a.m. May 18. He’s charged with killing and dismembering 46-year-old Tammy Jo Blanton at her home in Jeffersonville.

After several ups and downs in regard to Oberhansley’s mental health, including a previous competency restoration at Logansport, the defendant was set for trial last August, the jury having been drawn from an outside county due to publicity on the case. But just hours into the first day, a mistrial was called when a state’s witness testified to information both the defense and state had agreed could unfairly prejudice the jury and would not be brought before them.

Attorneys were initially making plans to select a new jury from a different county, aiming for trial in early February. But in October, the defense team filed a motion for competency evaluation based on what they said was their client’s paranoia and uncooperative behavior. After evaluation from two psychiatrists, he was found incompetent to stand trial on Jan. 2.

After being on a wait list for more than two months, Oberhansley was scheduled to be transported to Logansport in mid-March. The transfer was postponed by the hospital due to restrictions and closures being imposed at that time due to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

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