LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A southern Indiana judge sentenced Joseph Oberhansley on Tuesday to life in prison without parole.
Oberhansley was found guilty of murder and burglary in connection to the murder and dismemberment of Tammy Jo Blanton. He was found not guilty of rape. Three days later, a jury recommended a life sentence.
"I did not kill Tammy Blanton," Oberhansley said out a courtroom Tuesday. "Two Black guys did."
NOW: A southern Indiana judge has sentenced Joseph Oberhansley to life in prison without parole. “I did not kill Tammy Blanton,” Oberhansley said. “Two black guys did.”A jury found him guilty of Blanton’s murder in September. pic.twitter.com/yrq60ENADq— Dalton Godbey (@DaltonTVNews) October 13, 2020
Judge Vicki Carmichael read Oberhansley's charges of murder and burglary before siding with the prosecutors recommended sentence of life in prison without parole. Oberhansley also received an additional six years for the burglary charge.
“He can sit in that courtroom and walk through the hallway, spin all the tales and tell all the stories and lie as much as he wants to, but at the end of the day, he’s going to be held accountable and removed from the streets for the rest of his life for what he did to Tammy Blanton," Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull said following sentencing.
During the hearing, Blanton's family took the stand with the opportunity to make a statement. Her mother, Lisa Harbin, looked directly at Oberhansley.
"You're just pure evil, and you're just lucky to be able to live out your life breathing," she said.
Blanton's sister-in-law, Charlene Harbin, also made a statement and called Oberhansley a "monster" and told him to "rot in hell."
Oberhansley maintained his innocence and even interrupted Blanton's family members to do so.
He called himself a "highly religious man."
"You could hear the emotion in the voices of the family members, the pent up pain and hurt that has been built up in them for the last six years," Mull said. "Today, we were finally able to give them a sense of finality that justice has been done.”
Oberhansley has maintained his innocence since his arrest. On the stand in his own defense, Oberhansley said Blanton had been killed by two men, who were still inside the home when he arrived. He said the men knocked him out, so he grabbed a knife when he woke up because he wasn't sure if they were still there.
During his closing remarks at the September trial, defense attorney Bart Betteau argued that in order to prove the murder charge, prosecutors must establish that Oberhansley went to Blanton's home with the intent to kill her. He told jurors Oberhansley's purpose for visiting the home was to talk with Blanton and get his property.
Betteau spoke with reporters following Tuesday's sentencing and claimed that justice had not been served in this case.
“This was a mental illness case from the very beginning," he said. "To say that we’re troubled by how it came out is an understatement."
Betteau told WDRB News, "The appropriate thing would have been to involve mental health authorities, get him whatever treatment is necessary and if he needed to be held in a mental health facility, so be it. If the people who were qualified to make the decision made the decision that he was a danger to others and would continue to be... nobody's at fault here, including Joseph."
Mull decided against seeking the death penalty in 2019 after the defense agreed not to bring up his past history of mental illness.
"I told the people of Clark County many years ago that this was something that I intended to see through and to make sure that this man was held accountable for his actions," Mull said back in September. "He was brought to justice and removed from the streets, and so today, that happened."
The trial was held in Clark County but the jury was seated in Allen County in northeastern Indiana because of the intense media coverage the case has received in the southern part of the state over the past four years.
Oberhansley said he plans to appeal the judge's decision.
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