JEFFERSONVILLE — The legal team for Joseph Oberhansley is calling for a mistrial in his murder case.
Defense attorney Bart Betteau made the motion Thursday morning after a witness, Donna Victoria, made remarks regarding past drug use and the criminal history of Oberhansley, who is accused of killing and mutilating the body of Tammy Jo Blanton in 2014.
After the request was made, Clark County Circuit Court No. 4 Judge Vicki Carmichael dismissed jurors for lunch as she took the decision into consideration.
Betteau argued that prior hearings prohibited such factors from entering the record. The jury, Betteau said, will now be "thinking about drug use" and attributing those factors to the crime. The bigger issue to him, however, was the mentioning of past crimes.
"She also brought up prison reform, so now they know he has a criminal background," Betteau said in court. "There’s no way that we can counteract those things. If a jury hears about a previous crime, you can’t get it out of your mind."
Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull countered by stating that the issue of drug use is "not as serious" as Betteau was making it out to be, arguing that Oberhansley himself had admitted to using drugs. Betteau said that Oberhansley had only admitted to using a "little marijuana" and "may have used meth."
Arguing against a mistrial, Mull told Carmichael that previous case law states that a "prompt admonishment" to the jury to remedy the error of improper evidence would be sufficient.
"A mistrial is the extreme remedy when no other remedy can cure the error," Mull said.
Trial proceedings will resume at 1 p.m.