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Blair County Prosecutors Seeking Death Penalty

Authorities in Blair County say prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty against an Altoona man who is accused of stabbing another man nearly 100 times and then was reportedly found living with the victim’s corpse for three days.

During a formal arraignment Tuesday morning, prosecutors presented a notice that if Raymond Oechsle Jr. is found guilty of murder in the death of 42-year-old Christopher Helsel, then the District Attorney’s office will ask that the jury sentence him to death.

Authorities say the motion to seek the death penalty against Oechsle is based on three factors.

That Oechsle allegedly committed the murder while also committing another felony
That Christopher Helsel was reportedly killed by means of torture
And that Oechsle has a “significant” history of felony convictions involving the use or threat of violence.

According to the affidavit, police say officers were called to an apartment building along 8th Ave. after a resident accused her neighbor, Oechsle, of repeatedly breaking into her apartment and stealing multiple items.

Police say when they arrived at the building and attempted to make contact with him, authorities say they found that the door to his apartment had been barricaded.

Investigators say officers were able to enter the apartment through another door, where they then discovered the deceased body of Christopher Helsel.

Authorities say Oechsle is accused of stabbing Helsel approximately 98 times in the head, face, chest, torso and back.

Police noted that there was evidence that someone had attempted to clean up the crime scene.

Authorities say when they questioned Oechsle, he reportedly admitted to killing Helsel with a “folding knife” during an altercation.

Police say Oechsle claimed that he had been sitting outside of his apartment, after being locked out, when Helsel approached him and a physical altercation ensued.

Investigators say Oechsle confessed to stabbing Helsel in both eyes and in his torso, and claimed that he did so out of “self-defense.”

Prosecutors also noted that, according to public court records, Oechsle had previously been convicted, in federal court, of assault with the intent to commit murder for reportedly stabbing another individual 22 times.

“Seeking the death penalty never is and never should be an easy decision. And it is not one that I arrived at lightly in this matter. However, my responsibility as a prosecutor is to protect the community using every legal tool supplied by the lawmakers who were chosen and elected by the people of this Commonwealth. The nature of this alleged homicide along with Mr. Oechsle’s history of violent convictions satisfies the standard to seek death as set forth under the law. This is not a duty I will avoid or a decision that I will remove from the hands of a Blair County jury,”


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