JEFFERSONSVILLE, Ind. (PM) — The judge presiding over an Indiana trial concerning a man indicted of raping, murdering and consuming pieces of his ex-girlfriend’s body decided Thursday to grant the defense’s motion for a mistrial.
The application for a mistrial occurred after a state’s witness discussed the prior criminal history and drug usage of the defendant, 38-year-old Joseph Oberhansley. Tammy Jo Blanton was 46 years old when she was killed on Sept. 11, 2014.
The witness was Donna Victoria, Blanton’s intimate confidant, who stated on the stand that her friend didn’t call the police after an incident between the couple because she “didn’t want him to go back to prison.” Blanton also told Victoria she believed Oberhansley had been “reformed,” Victoria stated.
The witness also acknowledged a prior conversation between her and Blanton about drugs stimulating his behavior.
“This puts him in great peril,” Clark County Circuit Judge Vicki Carmichael said in open court Thursday. “A simple admonishment to disregard (the comments) would be insufficient and certainly would not clear the prejudices created by the witness’ testimony.”
The rules of evidence generally don’t allow the specifying of prior criminal history unless a special exception is given. Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull told Carmichael he engaged with each witness prior to them taking the stand and told them not to communicate both.