Jury recommends life in prison for southern Indiana man in gruesome killing of ex-girlfriend



A southern Indiana man will spend life in prison for his role in the gruesome killing of his ex-girlfriend in 2014.The jury spent nearly an hour in deliberations before returning to the courtroom Monday, where they recommended Joseph Oberhansley serve life in prison without parole.WLKY reporter Lauren Adams, who has been covering the case from start to finish, tweeted the news Monday afternoon.Below is a recap of the day’s proceedings before the jury’s recommendation.Days after he was convicted of murder and burglary, but acquitted of rape, Oberhansley, 39, returned to court Monday. Oberhansley had been on trial for a week in connection to the 2014 death of his ex-girlfriend, Tammy Blanton.Clark County prosecutor Jeremy Mull thanked jurors, who had been brought in from the Fort Wayne area, for their “great personal sacrifice” and explained their job was not yet complete. As the penalty phase began, he told jurors that life without parole was the “appropriate sentence.”Previously, as agreed to by both sides, Oberhansley’s mental illness was not to be brought up. And in fact, it was Oberhansley himself, who had the insanity defense withdrawn in 2019. But on Monday, defense attorney Brent Westerfeld addressed what he called “the elephant in the courtroom:” Oberhansley’s mental illness.He referenced Oberhansley’s behaviors — and even his own words — in a series of texts sent to the victim, Tammy Blanton.”I can’t live with your demons. They are far too pow(erful),” Blanton had texted her ex-boyfriend.He responded, “I have no more demons, they’re cast out.”Westerfeld called two witnesses Monday, a psychiatrist and a psychologist.Dr. Timothy Allen, a psychiatrist, evaluated Oberhansley on six occasions and believed him to be schizophrenic, adding Oberhansley heard voices and suffered from hallucinations.”Keep in mind how that affected Joseph Oberhansley’s thinking, his mind, his consciousness,” Westerfeld advised jurors.”He had active hallucinations, a long history of mental illness…..once we had 24-hour observation of him, we saw how truly mentally ill he was,” Allen said.Later, Clark County prosecutor Jeremy Mull reminded jurors two other doctors who met with Oberhansley reported he “appreciated the wrongfulness of the crime.”Mull also brought up Oberhansley’s actions, including deceptive behavior including parking his car away from the crime scene and answering Blanton’s phone hours after the crime and pretending to be someone else.After lunch, the defense called on psychologist Heather Henderson-Galligan who met with Oberhansley on multiple occasions, while he was in jail.She testified he told her, “I just need to get out of here. I would never hurt anybody. I love everybody.” She said he repeated the same themes over and over, including needing his “freedom” and telling her “I seen the demons.”Henderson-Galligan also testified Oberhansley had disorganized speech and that he was “attending voice” — listening to something only he could hear but because she had been unable to complete a full exam she had not diagnosed Oberhansley with any mental disorder. Later, she said she believed, based on what she had observed, he had some type of schizophrenia.Before closing arguments, Oberhansley asked to address jurors, telling them, “That’s a horrible thing that happened to her. I did care about her.”He also said he wasn’t happy with his representation and planned to appeal.During closing arguments, prosecutor Mull said he did not dispute Oberhansley’s mental illness but said, “I do dispute the mental illness he has played such a role it has to mitigate the punishment for the crime.”He reminded jurors of the gruesome nature of the crime, including a subsequent act of cannibalism, and said “the crimes he committed that morning were thought out and planned out…..There has been no true remorse shown by Mr. Oberhansley.”Westerfeld told jurors, “We’re not saying this was… rational, but mental illness is this case, it explained what happened.”The jury, who was brought in from the Fort Wayne area because of pre-trial publicity, began deliberations in the penalty phase around 4:30 p.m. Monday. Those deliberations ended around 5:30 p.m. when the life in prison recommendation was announced.Oberhansley was convicted last week on the charges of murder and burglary.Following the verdict, Mull said he made a promise years ago to see justice through, and on Friday, that was achieved with Oberhansley no longer able to hurt anyone else.Oberhansley’s attorneys plan to file an appeal.Oberhansley, for his part, told jurors that he wasn’t happy with his legal team, once again professing his innocence.

A southern Indiana man will spend life in prison for his role in the gruesome killing of his ex-girlfriend in 2014.

The jury spent nearly an hour in deliberations before returning to the courtroom Monday, where they recommended Joseph Oberhansley serve life in prison without parole.

WLKY reporter Lauren Adams, who has been covering the case from start to finish, tweeted the news Monday afternoon.

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Below is a recap of the day’s proceedings before the jury’s recommendation.

Days after he was convicted of murder and burglary, but acquitted of rape, Oberhansley, 39, returned to court Monday. Oberhansley had been on trial for a week in connection to the 2014 death of his ex-girlfriend, Tammy Blanton.

Clark County prosecutor Jeremy Mull thanked jurors, who had been brought in from the Fort Wayne area, for their “great personal sacrifice” and explained their job was not yet complete. As the penalty phase began, he told jurors that life without parole was the “appropriate sentence.”

Previously, as agreed to by both sides, Oberhansley’s mental illness was not to be brought up. And in fact, it was Oberhansley himself, who had the insanity defense withdrawn in 2019. But on Monday, defense attorney Brent Westerfeld addressed what he called “the elephant in the courtroom:” Oberhansley’s mental illness.

He referenced Oberhansley’s behaviors — and even his own words — in a series of texts sent to the victim, Tammy Blanton.

“I can’t live with your demons. They are far too pow(erful),” Blanton had texted her ex-boyfriend.

He responded, “I have no more demons, they’re cast out.”

Westerfeld called two witnesses Monday, a psychiatrist and a psychologist.

Dr. Timothy Allen, a psychiatrist, evaluated Oberhansley on six occasions and believed him to be schizophrenic, adding Oberhansley heard voices and suffered from hallucinations.

“Keep in mind how that affected Joseph Oberhansley’s thinking, his mind, his consciousness,” Westerfeld advised jurors.

“He had active hallucinations, a long history of mental illness…..once we had 24-hour observation of him, we saw how truly mentally ill he was,” Allen said.

Later, Clark County prosecutor Jeremy Mull reminded jurors two other doctors who met with Oberhansley reported he “appreciated the wrongfulness of the crime.”

Mull also brought up Oberhansley’s actions, including deceptive behavior including parking his car away from the crime scene and answering Blanton’s phone hours after the crime and pretending to be someone else.

After lunch, the defense called on psychologist Heather Henderson-Galligan who met with Oberhansley on multiple occasions, while he was in jail.

She testified he told her, “I just need to get out of here. I would never hurt anybody. I love everybody.” She said he repeated the same themes over and over, including needing his “freedom” and telling her “I seen the demons.”

Henderson-Galligan also testified Oberhansley had disorganized speech and that he was “attending voice” — listening to something only he could hear but because she had been unable to complete a full exam she had not diagnosed Oberhansley with any mental disorder. Later, she said she believed, based on what she had observed, he had some type of schizophrenia.

Before closing arguments, Oberhansley asked to address jurors, telling them, “That’s a horrible thing that happened to her. I did care about her.”

He also said he wasn’t happy with his representation and planned to appeal.

During closing arguments, prosecutor Mull said he did not dispute Oberhansley’s mental illness but said, “I do dispute the mental illness he has played such a role it has to mitigate the punishment for the crime.”

He reminded jurors of the gruesome nature of the crime, including a subsequent act of cannibalism, and said “the crimes he committed that morning were thought out and planned out…..There has been no true remorse shown by Mr. Oberhansley.”

Westerfeld told jurors, “We’re not saying this was… rational, but mental illness is this case, it explained what happened.”

The jury, who was brought in from the Fort Wayne area because of pre-trial publicity, began deliberations in the penalty phase around 4:30 p.m. Monday. Those deliberations ended around 5:30 p.m. when the life in prison recommendation was announced.

Oberhansley was convicted last week on the charges of murder and burglary.

Following the verdict, Mull said he made a promise years ago to see justice through, and on Friday, that was achieved with Oberhansley no longer able to hurt anyone else.

Oberhansley’s attorneys plan to file an appeal.

Oberhansley, for his part, told jurors that he wasn’t happy with his legal team, once again professing his innocence.



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