American cannibalism trial starts with warning of gruesome photos

Jeffersonville, Indiana: The murder trial of a southern Indiana man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend and eating parts of her body began with a prosecutor warning jurors that they'll see photos of the 2014 crime scene “worse than anything you would see in a horror movie”.

Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said during his opening remarks in Joseph Oberhansley’s trial that Tammy Jo Blanton, 46, “met a fate that’s very difficult to describe” at the hands of the Jeffersonville man, who is charged with murder, rape, abuse of a corpse and burglary.

Joseph Oberhansley, who is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend and eating parts of her body.Credit:AP

Mull warned the jurors, who were drawn from Allen County in north-eastern Indiana because of the intense media coverage the case has received in the south of the state, that the evidence they would see will include gruesome photos.

Defense attorney Bart Betteau asked jurors to be wary of “emotional evidence” that wasn’t relevant to the facts in September 11, 2014, killing.

Witnesses who testified at the trial's opening on Friday — the sixth anniversary of Blanton's death — included two officers who responded to her home that day and an emergency services dispatcher who fielded Blanton's call, in which she told the dispatcher that Oberhansley, now 39, was trying to break into her Jeffersonville home.

Sabrina Hall, a co-worker and friend of Blanton’s, testified that she called police after a man she believes was Oberhansley answered Blanton's phone the day her friend died. She said time moved “super fast and super slow at the same time” as she waited for officers to confirm what she believed had happened.

The trial is set to resume Monday with a doctor who performed an autopsy on Blanton expected to testify.

If he’s convicted by the jury, Oberhansley will face a sentence of life in prison.

Oberhansley was set to stand trial in August 2019 with a jury drawn from central Indiana’s Hamilton County, but a mistrial was declared during the first day of testimony after a witness for the state spoke of things that attorneys had agreed would not be mentioned to the jury.


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