2 charged with murder in killing of pastor’s wife

INDIANAPOLIS — Authorities charged two young men with murder on Monday in the fatal shooting of a pastor’s pregnant wife during a home invasion that happened after the minister left the couple’s Indianapolis home without locking the front door.

Amanda Blackburn, 28, was found partially nude, with her underwear nearby and her shirt pulled up, lying in a pool of blood on her living room floor. She died one day after the Nov. 10 attack on Indianapolis’ northwest side.

Her husband, Pastor Davey Blackburn, told police he had left the home’s front door unlocked when he departed about 6 a.m. that morning to go to the gym and work out and returned home about 8:20 a.m. to find his wounded wife. The couple’s 15-month-old son, Weston, was at home upstairs in a crib but was not harmed in the attack.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry identified the two men charged with murder as Larry Jo Taylor Jr., 18, and Jalen E. Watson, 21, both of Indianapolis, who face murder, burglary, theft and several other charges. A probable cause affidavit says that Taylor shot Blackburn three times, including once in the back of the head.

Watson also faces a murder charge because Blackburn was killed during a burglary in which prosecutors allege that he was involved.

It was not clear whether Blackburn, who was 13 weeks pregnant, had been sexually assaulted even though she was found partially nude, Curry said.

“The investigation will continue, including any further forensic analysis that’s appropriate or ongoing,” he said.

The affidavit says the two men entered the house through the unlocked front door that morning after they had robbed two other homes, including one in the same neighborhood. A third man allegedly involved in the burglaries remained outside in a Chrysler Sebring stolen from the first home burglarized that day. That man has not yet been charged in the crimes, but Curry said he is being held on a parole violation in an unrelated case.

“He’s not going anywhere. We will make that decision probably this week,” Curry said.

Watson and Taylor were both being held Monday at the Marion County Jail. It wasn’t immediately clear whether either man had an attorney to speak on their behalf. Both were scheduled for initial court hearings today on the charges.

After the pair entered the Blackburn home, Watson left Taylor behind and drove away to ATMs in a stolen Sebring to try to use Blackburn’s debit card to withdraw money, the affidavit says.

That court document states that Taylor told Watson and others that he had killed Blackburn, and shot her the first time after she charged at him. He said he shot her in the upper body “so he would not be scratched” as she approached.

Curry said the first significant break in the case came when DNA on a pink sweater stolen from a home near the Blackburn residence was found to match Watson’s genetic profile in a national DNA database called CODIS. That sweater was found in the Sebring, which authorities said was used to move items taken during the burglaries.

The prosecutor said that his office would review whether it might seek the death penalty against Taylor and would meet with Blackburn’s relatives before making a decision in about a month.

“We meet internally in our office to determine strengths and weaknesses of the case. We meet with the family and we then ultimately make that decision — rather than making that decision based on a snap judgment,” he said.

Davey Blackburn released a statement Monday saying: “Though it does not undo the pain we are feeling, I was extremely relieved to get the news of the arrest made last night of Amanda’s killer.”

Davey Blackburn said investigators have told him they have a “solidly-built case.” Blackburn said he hopes the “court system would have wisdom on how to prosecute this man so that no one else endures the pain Amanda and our family have had to endure because of his actions.”

Curry said there was no reason to believe that the Blackburns knew the two men charged in Amanda Blackburn’s killing. The Blackburns, both children of Christian pastors, moved to Indianapolis from South Carolina in 2012 to found the independent Resonate Church.

Watson was released from prison Aug. 6 after completing his second sentence for burglary within the past three years, according to online inmate records from the Indiana Department of Correction.

Taylor also faces misdemeanor public nudity and public indecency charges stemming from an unrelated June incident where he allegedly exposed himself to a woman in a parking lot, court records show.

Investigators believe the suspect, whom neighbors also reported seeing walking in the area, may have seen Davey Blackburn leave that morning shortly after the suspect allegedly burglarized a nearby house.

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