Jury convicts Indiana man accused of killing, cannibalism

Joseph Oberhansley, who claimed his original confession to murdering his ex-girlfriend was coerced, may face life in prison without parole.

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Joseph Oberhansley
Joseph Oberhansley
(AP)

A southern Indiana man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend and eating parts of her body was convicted of a murder charge Friday.

Jurors deliberated for about five hours before announcing the guilty verdict against Joseph Oberhansley of Jeffersonville in Tammy Jo Blanton’s death. The 46-year-old victim’s body was found at her home the morning of Sept. 11, 2014, badly mutilated with more than 25 sharp force injuries and multiple blunt force injuries, authorities have said.

The jury convicted Oberhansley of murder and burglary, but reached a not guilty verdict on rape charges against him.

Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull in his closing statement challenged Oberhansley’s testimony Thursday as the lone defense witness that he was suffering from head injuries when he was coerced into a confession after nearly three hours of police interrogation following the discovery of Blanton’s body.

Oberhansley testified “two black guys” had been at her home when he arrived around 4 a.m. that day and said they were responsible for Blanton’s death and knocking him out. He awoke when police knocked on the door looking for the victim.

Mull asked the jury to consider why the men would have violently killed Blanton but left Oberhansley unconscious without further injury.

“We all know they didn’t do that,” Mull said. “We all know Joseph Oberhansley killed Tammy Blanton.”

Defense attorney Bart Betteau argued Oberhansley’s account was reasonable and the prosecutor hadn’t presented evidence to prove Oberhansley committed the crime.

“You have to be aware that there’s a thought out there that you shouldn’t deliberate on this case (or) take anything I say seriously,” he said. “There might be a thought out there that that’s what people want you to do.

“But you don’t have that luxury. You took an oath,” Betteau said.

Oberhansley faces a possible sentence of life in prison without parole. Prosecutors dropped an attempt to seek the death penalty last year.

Jurors were drawn from Allen County in northeastern Indiana because of the intense media coverage the case has received in the southern part of the state.

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