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An accused Indiana cannibal has once again been deemed unfit to stand trial for the murder of his ex-girlfriend.
Joseph Oberhansley, 38, is accused of killing his former girlfriend Tammy Jo Blanton in her Jeffersonville home before cannibalizing parts of her body five years ago. Prosecutors believe that Oberhansley broke into Blanton's home and then raped and stabbed her to death before eating parts of her, but Oberhansley has always maintained his innocence, claiming that two other men killed his ex.
Oberhansley’s defense attorneys and prosecutors came to an agreement Thursday, January 2, to have him transported to a state hospital for competency restoration, local outlet News and Tribune reports. The decision is based on two competency evaluations filed in December by psychiatrists, according to the report.
“This is the absolute right thing,” defense attorney Bart Betteau told the News and Tribune Monday. “From the nature of the case itself — the accusations — and just Joseph’s behavior both in and out of court, there really is no question that he is incompetent. He can’t assist in his defense nor does he really have an understanding to the procedures.”
Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull told the News and Tribune that he feels Oberhansley will be convicted at some point.
“I do believe that it will go to trial and I do believe that he will be convicted,” Mull told the News and Tribune.
Oberhansley was previously found incompetent to stand trial in late 2017. The next year, a state psychiatrist found Oberhansley mentally fit enough despite the fact that he referred to himself as Zeus in court.
While he went to trial in 2019, it ended in a mistrial. His defense requested the mistrial after a prosecution witness talked about Oberhansley's criminal history and drug use on the stand, which the presiding judge agreed could prejudice the jury.
His criminal history involves another murder. As a teenager, Oberhansley was convicted of manslaughter for killing his 17-year-old girlfriend while high on meth, according to a 2014 Courier Journal report. He then shot his own mom before shooting himself in the face. Later, he told a parole board that the bullet lodged inside him had calmed his rage.
Another one of Oberhansley’s defense attorneys, Brent Westerfeld, said Monday that his client has not received appropriate medical care for his mental health issues.
"Its clear that he has serious mental health issues and it's problematic trying to have a trial when someone is not being properly medicated for their mental illness," he said. "I think that's the significant problem here.”
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