An Indiana man was sentenced to nearly 100 years in prison on Friday for murdering a woman pregnant with her second child in 2015.
Larry Jo Taylor Jr. was convicted of numerous charges in September of this year related to both the shooting death of 28-year-old Amanda Blackburn and the burglaries of numerous homes in the Indianapolis metropolitan area in late 2015.
“We lost everything and more,” the deceased woman’s husband, then-pastor Davey Blackburn, said in a victim-impact statement reported by Indianapolis NBC affiliate WTHR. “I lost my rock, my best friend and my first love.”
The couple had recently moved to the city from South Carolina to start a church. The church was closed down in 2019.
Amanda Blackburn was murdered on the morning of Nov. 15, 2015. During trial, her husband testified that he woke up to read his Bible around 4:30 a.m. that day, then went to the gym around 6:00 a.m. Davey Blackburn said he left the door unlocked because the lone house key was on his wife’s key ring at the time. He returned home around 8:00 a.m. and found his wife laying on the floor naked, unconscious, and bleeding. Then he called 911. But it was too late.
She was 12 weeks pregnant.
“I smoked her,” Taylor reportedly told his accomplices after the slaying. The trio saw Davey Blackburn leave that morning and the residence was marked for burglary – one of many break-ins in the neighborhood.
Taylor’s two co-defendants took plea deals in exchange for their cooperation – including in-trial testimony – in the state’s case against him. Jalen E. Watson pleaded guilty to robbery and burglary charges in 2017 and was sentenced to 29 years in prison. Diano Cortez Gordon pleaded guilty to robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and burglary charges in 2018 and sentenced to 30 years in prison with five years suspended, according to the Associated Press.
The road to Taylor’s conviction was arduous; two mistrials were previously declared. The first occurred after more than one juror learned that the victim was pregnant when she died, according to The Indianapolis Star. The second mistrial reportedly occurred because several jurors learned about and discussed the first one.
“Nearly seven years after this tragic and senseless murder, justice has been secured for Amanda,” Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears said in comments reported by WTHR. “I commend the Blackburn family and the community for the tremendous amount of patience and grace they have shown throughout this process. We hope that today’s resolution provides finality to a very difficult chapter.”
The defendant was finally convicted during a 4-day-long bench trial. He was found guilty on 12 out of 14 total counts against him.
“We’re grateful for the verdict,” the victim’s father, Phil Byars, said in September. “But we have been trusting in both the Lord and the system.”
“I feel very relieved,” Davey Blackburn said at the time, according to WTHR. “It’s always a relief to know the truth and to be able to be as assured as we are after experiencing what we experienced this week. It’s been a long journey for our family.”
During the sentencing hearing, Amanda Blackburn’s family members offered the defendant a measure of forgiveness, the TV station reported — imploring the killer to be more like the woman he killed.
[image via Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department]
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