Oberhansley in court

Joseph Oberhansley is led from court in Clark County following a hearing on final motions before his trial starts Monday for the 2014 murder of Tammy Jo Blanton in Jeffersonville. 

JEFFERSONVILLE — A Clark County judge is considering the final rulings on which evidence can be submitted in the case of a man accused of killing, dismembering and consuming parts of his ex-girlfriend in Jeffersonville in 2014.

Jury selection starts Monday, Aug. 19, in the trial of Joseph Oberhansley, 38, charged with murder and burglary related to the death of Tammy Jo Blanton in August 2014.

In Clark County Circuit Court No. 4 Monday, Judge Vicki Carmichael heard the final defense motions before the trial starts.

Among the defense's requests were that parts of Oberhansley's initial statement to police in which he said he stabbed and dismembered Blanton be redacted, saying he wasn't properly mirandized and that "It appears from the text itself that Joseph didn't know he was being interrogated," defense attorney Bart Betteau said during the hearing.

Defense counsel also requested that evidence be suppressed regarding an alleged rape days before Blanton's murder and information about the presence of Oberhansley's semen on the victim's body.

"There's absolutely nothing," Betteau said in court. "The presence of semen doesn't indicate rape. Semen only indicates there was sexual contact."

Oberhansley spoke up in court to tell the judge the two had had consensual sex three to four days before her murder, which falls within the seven day timeframe for which semen can be detected.

The two had been in a relationship prior to the murder, but Blanton had broken things off and changed the locks. The night before her murder the morning of Sept. 11, 2014, police had responded to her house on Locust Street when she said Oberhansley wouldn't leave.

Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull told the judge the proof of rape was evident in conversations and text messages between Blanton and a friend, in which Blanton talked of her fear of him.

"There's no way this victim would have had consensual sex with him that weekend," Mull said.

Betteau said the witness statement that Blanton had told her Oberhansley had raped her prior to the night of her murder was hearsay.

Mull also objected to the defense using Oberhansley's competency reports as evidence. In October 2017, the court found him incompetent to stand trial at that time. Just over a year later in November 2018, a physician at Logansport State Hospital found him to be competent and he was transferred back to Clark County to await trial.

Mull said introducing the competency evaluation would be a way for the defense to circumvent the order not to use the insanity defense, while still producing evidence of his mental state. He further said if that happened, he would bring evidence from Logansport in which he said Oberhansley was given a diagnosis of malingering, or faking his psychological symptoms.

Oberhansley interjected multiple times throughout he hearing, which is not unusual in this case. At one point, Betteau objected to what he was saying, telling the judge that Oberhansley is not representing himself.

And as he has done since nearly the start of the case, Oberhansley spoke out in the courtroom against his attorneys, telling lead counsel Brent Westerfeld "You're a snake, I'm done with you. I can't work with snakes," he said. "I'd take some kid fresh out of law school any day over you."

He asked the judge to be able to hire private counsel, which she denied. He also said that since receiving transcripts of his case in July, he's discovered new evidence, such as an incorrect murder weapon.

"Mr. Oberhansley, your trial starts Monday," Carmichael said. "It's been five years."

The judge is expected to rule on the motions by the end of the week. Jury selection starts Monday in Hamilton County, with the jury hearing the case in Clark County.

Aprile Rickert is the crime and courts reporter at the News and Tribune. Contact her via email at aprile.rickert@newsandtribune.com or by phone at 812-206-2115. Follow her on Twitter: @Aperoll27.

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