INDIANAPOLIS — Nearly seven years have passed since a pastor’s wife was murdered during a robbery spree.
Now, the man investigators say fired the gun that killed Amanda Blackburn has been found guilty after a bench trial.
Judge Grant Hawkins convicted Larry Taylor on multiple charges, including murder. Other guilty counts: burglary, burglary with serious bodily injury, theft, criminal confinement, auto theft, carrying a handgun without a license and an enhancement for murder/attempted murder causing termination of a pregnancy.
He was found not guilty of robbery and not guilty on one of the murder counts. He faced 14 counts in total.
Blackburn, who was pregnant at the time, was shot during a home invasion in November 2015. She died from her wounds two days later; the autopsy found she suffered a gunshot to the head and ruled her death a homicide.
Blackburn and her husband, Davey Blackburn, had moved from South Carolina to Indianapolis in 2012 to start a church on the north side.
The home invasion and shooting led to a frantic search for suspects; police announced two arrests in late November. A third suspect was taken into custody in December 2015.
Two of the suspects–Jalen Watson and Diano Gordon–took plea deals in the case. They agreed to testify against Taylor and did so during the bench trial. Murder charges were dropped in exchange.
While both conceded they’d been involved in multiple burglaries on the day of Blackburn’s murder, they said Taylor was the person who shot Blackburn inside her home.
Two previous attempts to try Taylor ended in mistrials. In one mistrial, a juror revealed she knew about the case and a previous mistrial. The juror had previously told the court she didn’t know anything about the case. The first mistrial was declared after a juror learned Blackburn was pregnant, information the judge was afraid would affect the jury’s feelings.
The case against Taylor took years to put together, with investigators needing to narrow down the number of witnesses who would testify. In addition, there were COVID-related delays and changes in attorneys that contributed to the case’s long development.
“We are pleased with today’s verdict and that we are finally able to bring justice for Amanda and her family,” said Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears in a statement. “It has taken a tremendous amount of patience and grace to get to this moment. This case would not have been possible without cooperation from the community and their continued support over the past several years.”
Taylor’s sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 14.