Indiana court upholds life sentence for man convicted of killing, cannibalism

May 17, 2023, 2:57 PM

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (AP) — The Indiana Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the life sentence without parole for a man convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend and eating parts of her body.

Joseph Oberhansley was convicted in September 2020 of murder and burglary in the slaying of Tammy Jo Blanton in Jeffersonville in September 2014. Clark Circuit Judge Vicki Carmichael sentenced Oberhansley to life in prison without parole, based on a jury recommendation.

Oberhansley’s attorney, Victoria Casanova, argued before the court last month that her client’s mental health wasn’t taken into consideration and that the jury didn’t return a proper verdict form in weighing aggravating and mitigating circumstances.

The opinion written by Justice Christopher Goff said the jury made “the necessary weighing determination.” Three other justices concurred and Justice Geoffrey Slaughter agreed in part.

The body of Blanton, 46, 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.

Oberhansley testified that two men had been at the victim’s home when he arrived around 4 a.m. that day and said they were responsible for Blanton’s death. He said they knocked him out and that he awoke when police arrived.

Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull expressed relief at the ruling.

“I hope that the family of the victim can rest a bit easier now that the result of the proceedings has been reviewed and upheld,” Mull said.

Oberhansley is incarcerated at the New Castle Psychiatric Unit of the Indiana Department of Correction.

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Indiana court upholds life sentence for man convicted of killing, cannibalism