Cannibal Attack In Indiana - Inspired by Animal Attack?
A Southern Indiana man accused of killing his estranged girlfriend and consuming parts of her body has been deemed competent to stand trial by a state psychiatrist.
Even with the psychiatrist's opinion, Joseph Oberhansley's competency can still be contested by his defense attorneys, said Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Jeremy Mull, which would then trigger a hearing after which a judge would make a final decision.
"This matter has been going on for four years now, and it's high time that the victim's family saw justice done," Mull said after a Wednesday hearing in Clark County Circuit Court.
Oberhansley has been in custody since September 2014, when his ex-girlfriend Tammy Jo Blanton was found dead in her Jeffersonville home.
Police allege Oberhansley broke into Blanton's home, stabbed her and ate parts of her body.
During the Thursday's hearing, a defense attorney handed Judge Vicki Carmichael a handwritten letter penned by Oberhansley, which was filed under seal.
Oberhansley then spoke up, saying he needs to fire his attorneys.
"They're trying to control my thoughts," he told the judge. "They're trying to control my mind."
Carmichael told him he needed to work with his attorneys.
As he did during his police interview in 2014, Oberhansley contended two other men killed Blanton, and he asked Carmichael to read his letter.
"I'm just so tired of dealing with all this stuff and being locked in this cage," he said. "I just want to be executed."
Asked for comment after the hearing, defense attorney Brent Westerfeld said Oberhansley's words "stand for themselves."
Also during the hearing, Mull asked the judge to set a trial date within the next six months, but the defense asked her for an additional month before scheduling the trial.
Mull said the defense wanted to speak with Oberhansley to decide if they'll contest the competency opinion.
He is charged with murder, burglary and rape and faces up to the death penalty if convicted.
A legal determination on Oberhansley's competency has been in question for more than a year, after his attorneys requested an evaluation in February 2017.
In their motion, attorneys Westerfeld and Bart Betteau noted a "complete breakdown" in communication with Oberhansley, who appeared "suspicious, paranoid, uncommunicative, and agitated" in their interactions.
In October 2017, after hearing from a court-appointed psychiatrist and two psychologists, Carmichael ruled that he wasn't competent to stand trial.
She ordered him into the care of the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction, meant to bring him to competency so he could be tried at a later date.
Mull received a report last month from a psychiatrist at Logansport State Hospital, a state psychiatric hospital.
"We're proceeding forward under the understanding and the assumption that he is competent to stand trial and participate in these proceedings based upon the medical expert's certification," Mull said.
The next hearing in the case is set for Sept. 21.
Reporter Matthew Glowicki can be reached at 502-582-4989 or email@example.com. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/mattg.