Man who led police on chase was on parole for killing girlfriend

Man who led police on chase was on parole for killing girlfriend
Joseph Oberhansley (Source: LMDC)
Joseph Oberhansley (Source: LMDC)

Clark County prosecutor prepares arrest warrant for Indiana crimes


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JEFFERSONVILLE - A man who led Jeffersonville police on a nearly 40-minute, slow-speed vehicle pursuit Tuesday morning has been identified as a convicted killer who spent more than 12 years in a Utah prison.

Joseph Oberhansley, 33, Loma Vista Drive, was arrested by the Louisville Metro Police Department about 1 a.m. Tuesday, after the police pursuit in Jeffersonville and Clarksville crossed the state line on Interstate 65. Oberhansley is being held at Louisville Metro Corrections under a $1,000 bond for a charge of disorderly conduct.

[RELATED STORY: Suspect arrested in I-65 chase identified]

An Internet search by News and Tribune led to the discovery that a 17-year-old Oberhansley killed his girlfriend, shot his mother and turned the gun on himself in a home of a Salt Lake City suburb in 1998, according to Deseret News, which is based in Salt Lake City.

Oberhansley was convicted in 2000 with manslaughter and attempted murder. He was released in July 2012.

Clark County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said Oberhansley remains on parole, and he has already prepared an arrest warrant that would prevent him being released from the Louisville jail before full prosecution in Clark County.

“I want to see that a high bond is issued,” Mull said.

He went on to say that it is difficult to determine, at his point, how long Oberhansley will remain in Louisville before being extradited to Clark County for criminal charges stemming from the vehicle pursuit.

Mull said Oberhansley also has a pending case Clark County Circuit Court No. 3.

He was charged with strangulation and resisting law enforcement in 2013, according to court records. A pretrial conference is scheduled in that case in September.

According to an article dated March 14, 2000, on the Deseret News website, Prosecutor Paul Parker said the state’s plea agreement, which included recommending concurrent prison terms, was the “appropriate penalty in this case,” referencing the killing of Sabrina Elder and the shooting of Oberhansley’s mother.

Oberhansley’s mother and grandmother, both eyewitnesses to the crime, and other family members were hesitant to cooperate with the investigation. Oberhansley’s state of mind at the time of the shooting would have made a murder conviction unlikely, Parker said. Oberhansley, 17 at the time, had just endured his father’s death. His brother had previously committed suicide.

“I didn’t think we could get a murder conviction,” Parker said.

Apparently without being provoked, Oberhansley walked into his grandmother’s West Valley, Utah, home on Dec. 9, 1998, pulled a gun out of a bag and shot Elder, who just days before had given birth to the couple’s child. After several shots, one fatal bullet hit her in the head. Oberhansley then shot and wounded his mother, Brenda Lee Self, before turning the gun on himself.

Oberhansley, 17 at the time, admitted he was under “severe emotional distress” that night, according to the article.

“This was not an intentional act,” said Oberhansley’s defense attorney, Ronald Yengich. “All of the stressors involved in Joseph’s life at the time led up to this. It is likely that outside of those factors this never would have happened.”

Yengich called the plea deal a “fair compromise” and added that the injury Oberhansley sustained from shooting himself in the head has actually made him a calmer person.

“The injury he sustained actually has had a beneficial affect because of the portion of the brain that was injured,” Yengich said.

Oberhansley did not cause problems as a prisoner in Utah, according to a 2012 report on, the website of a local TV station.

“The decision to set the offender’s parole date was made in 2004 following his original hearing,” according to a statement from the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole put out the day before his release. “He had taken full responsibility for his crimes, was programming at the prison, and was well-behaved.”

However, Elder’s grandfather was more ominous about Oberhansley’s release in the Deseret News article.

“He’s going to get out in five to seven years to do it again,” Alfred Irmer said. “They didn’t give us our day in court.”

Irmer said he wanted a jury to decide whether or not Oberhansley was guilty of first-degree murder, but prosecutors took the “cheapest way out” by offering Oberhansley a plea deal.