Prosecutors not ruling out death penalty for defendants in Blackburn murder

Two Indianapolis men have been charged in the murder of Amanda Blackburn.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department/AP
In this file frame grab from surveillance video provided by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, a possible suspect walks in the neighborhood where Amanda Blackburn was shot.

The two men facing murder charges in the slaying of an Indianapolis pastor's wife have said little upon facing a judge for the first time since their arrest.

A Marion County judge entered not guilty pleas for 18-year-old Larry Taylor Jr. and 21-year-old Jalen Watson during a hearing on Tuesday morning.

A decision is yet to be made whether the death penalty will be sought against the two men. On Monday, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said his office will review evidence in the coming weeks and meet with the family of Amanda Blackburn before making a death penalty decision.

The Associated Press reports that, the two men quietly answered the judge's questions about whether they understood the charges, but didn't say anything about the accusations that they broke into the home of 28-year-old Blackburn.

Indianapolis police announced Monday the arrest of Mr. Taylor on murder charges in Blackburn's killing. Later that day, police announced they had taken two additional men into custody in relation to a string of robberies in the area where Ms. Blackburn was killed.

According to court records, Taylor was charged with three counts of murder as well as burglary, theft, auto theft, and carrying a handgun without a license. Mr. Watson was charged with two counts of murder as well as burglary, theft, robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, and auto theft.

The arrests came nearly two weeks after Blackburn’s husband, Pastor Davey Blackburn, found his wife critically injured after being shot in the head inside her house on Nov. 10 and died the following day. She was 13 weeks pregnant and the baby did not survive. Mr. Curry says he hasn't determined yet whether to pursue charges related to the death of the unborn child.

The Blackburns, moved to Indianapolis from South Carolina in 2012 and founded Resonate Church, an independent Christian church. Mr. Blackburn released a statement Monday after receiving news of the arrests via the church Facebook page:

Though it does not undo the pain we are feeling, I was extremely relieved toget the news of the arrest made last night of Amanda's killer. Theinvestigators have assured me they have a solidly-built case to ensurejustice is levied and the process is expedited. The family and I couldn't bemore thankful for the level of compassion and professionalism the IMPDand investigators have shown us through the last couple of weeks. My hopeis for 3 things in the weeks and months to come:

(1) That the court system would have wisdom on how to prosecute thisman, so that no one else endures the pain Amanda and our family havehad to endure because of his actions.

(2) That through all of this and although there will be great consequencesfor his actions, he would become truly sorry for what he has done andwould even begin to experience the life-transforming power of the Graceand Mercy of Jesus Christ.

(3) That Jesus would give me and our family a heart of forgiveness.

Though everything inside of me wants to hate, be angry, and slip intodespair I choose the route of forgiveness, grace and hope. If there is onething I've learned from Amanda in the 10 years we were together, it's this:Choosing to let my emotions drive my decisions is recipe for a hopelessand fruitless life. Today I am deciding to love, not hate. Today I am decidingto extend forgiveness, not bitterness. Today I am deciding to hope, notdespair. By Jesus' power at work within us, the best is STILL yet to come. Even when I don't see it, I believe it to be true.

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