Two of the three suspects charged with the 2015 murder of Amanda Blackburn, who was a 28-year-old Indiana pastor's wife, have now had the murder charges against them dropped after agreeing to plea deals, while the case for murder against the remaining suspect is still pending.
The Marion County Prosecutor's Office said in a Fox 59 report that charges including the murder against suspect Diano Gordon, now 26, will be dismissed in exchange for his pleading guilty to robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and burglary.
The late Amanda Blackburn had moved with her husband, Davey Blackburn, from South Carolina in 2012 to start Resonate Church in Indiana. On the morning of Nov. 10, while Davey was away at the gym, police said his wife was shot three times, including once in the head during a home invasion. She succumbed to her injuries the following day along with their unborn daughter, Everette "Evie" Grace Blackburn.
Police announced the arrests of two men, Larry Jo Taylor Jr., then 18, and his accomplice, Jalen Watson, then 21, and charged them with murder and a litany of other crimes in late November 2015. Gordon, who was 24, at the time, was arrested and charged in December 2015.
Watson also had charges including murder dismissed against him in a plea deal in October 2017 in an agreement that would see him joining Gordon in testifying against Taylor, who authorities are hoping to convict for the murder.
"It seemed like there was one person primarily responsible for Miss Blackburn's death and that is who the prosecutor was focused on," attorney Chris Eskew told Fox 59.
"It is not unusual, especially in co-defending cases, to charge everyone with everything. Try to figure out what really happened. They try to flip some co-defendants," he noted.
Eskew said plea deals like the one offered to Gordon take time but they generally help prosecutors to make a stronger case against their target, which in this case is Taylor.
"The better their testimony is the better the benefit they are going to get from the court. Technically, they are still pleading to very serious crimes. They are still looking at 30 years in prison each. So it's not like they walked away with a misdemeanor," Eskew said.
Amanda's husband, who was briefly seen and cleared as a suspect in her death by Indiana police, remarried last December, two years after her death.
He has also repeatedly talked about why he has chosen to forgive those responsible for her death.
"People have asked me how in the world can you forgive. ... I started realizing that if I continue to let bitterness and hatred fuel everything that I do, then it's going to perpetuate, blow up everybody that I care about around me. My son's going to perpetuate bitterness and hatred. My staff's going to perpetuate bitterness and hatred. My friends, everything, and it's going to start this cycle," he said.
"And so the way that I stop that cycle, the ways that I stop generational cycles, is that I have a full frontal assault against bitterness and hatred with love and kindness and forgiveness, and that, friends, is how we become dangerous against darkness."