Tyler Ryan Blansit, of Mentone, Ala., entered a plea of not guilty by mental disease or defect in the slaying of Sherry Ann Blansit, according to officials in the 9th Judicial Circuit Court Clerk's Office. He remains behind bars on a $1 million cash bond.
Blansit's legal counsel, Fort Payne attorney Rocky Watson, could not be reached for comment Friday.
Authorities said Sherry Ann Blansit, 45, was beaten in the face "till she was unrecognizable." She was found in her backyard on May 29, 2015.
"In over 25 years of law enforcement being on almost every major crime scene in DeKalb County, this is one of the most brutal deaths I have ever seen," Sheriff Jimmy Harris said in a June 2015 statement on Blansit's bond. "I can't image how anyone could be so upset over anything that they would beat their own mother to death in this manner."relatedarticlethumb
The killing was the first in modern memory — and perhaps ever — in the idyllic mountaintop town, Mentone Police Chief Brad Gregg said in the days after the slaying. The town of fewer than 400 people that lies about 35 miles southwest of Chattanooga is noted as an artists colony.
Tyler Blansit, listed in the University of Alabama Birmingham's student directory as a biology major, is an only child who had been home from school about two weeks, Gregg said. His father was at work in Fort Payne when the slaying happened.
Mentone police had never answered a call to the Blansit home, and neither Tyler Blansit nor his parents had any criminal history or prior problems until Friday, the police chief said.
Court officials said a tentative trial date is set for Sept. 25.