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A mistrial was suddenly declared Thursday in the case of an Indiana man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend and and eating parts of her body.
The defense lawyers for Joseph Oberhansley, 38, requested the mistrial after a prosecution witness talked about Oberhansley's criminal history and drug use on the stand.
Clark County Circuit Judge Vicki Carmichael agreed that the testimony could prejudice the jury. Oberhansley will now have to re-tried for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Tammy Jo Blanton, who was found dead under a tarp inside her Jeffersonville home in 2014, according to the Courier Journal in Louisville, Kentucky.
Prosecutors believe that Oberhansley broke into Blanton's home, raped and stabbed her to death before eating parts of her body. Oberhansley has always maintained his innocence and since 2014 has claimed that two other men killed his ex.
On Thursday, Blanton’s friend Donna Victoria took the stand and testified that just days before the murder, Blanton confided in her that Oberhansley had “held her hostage all weekend, and that he raped her,” according to local station WAVE 3 News.
Victoria said her slain friend didn’t want to call police on Oberhansley because she didn’t want him to have to go back to prison and she theorized that his behavior was a result of drug use. That part of the testimony caused the mistrial on the fourth day of the proceedings.
As for the comment about going back to prison, Victoria was likely referencing the fact that 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. He was out on parole for all that during the alleged cannibal incident.
Last year, a state psychiatrist has found Oberhansley mentally fit enough to stand trial despite the fact that he referred to himself as Zeus in court. Around the same time, a judge read aloud a letter penned by Oberhansley in which he wrote, "I'm just so tired of dealing with all this stuff and being locked in this cage. I just want to be executed,” the Courier Journal reported.
During the initial trial, Oberhansley’s lawyers continued to claim he was mentally ill.
As he was being led out of the courtroom Thursday, Oberhansley said to reporters, “The prosecution and the state knows they have the wrong man. I’m 100 percent innocent of all these false charges against me.”
During the opening statements of the now tainted trial, Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull told jurors that Oberhansley "butchered Tammy Blanton like you wouldn’t kill a livestock animal. But this lady died with dignity,” the Louisville Courier-Journal reports.
He detailed how Blanton had locked herself in a bathroom to hide from Oberhansley, who allegedly kicked down the door to kill her.
Mull noted that in a police interview, Oberhansley allegedly said that Blanton seemed calm.
“In her last moments, she wasn’t going to give him the pleasure of seeing her scared,” the prosecutor said.
A new trial date has been set for Sept. 3 and a new jury will have to be selected.
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