It has been two years since Amanda Blackburn, the pregnant wife of an Indianapolis pastor, was fatally wounded during a home invasion on Nov. 10, 2015.
Here’s a look at the case that captured the nation’s attention. (Dwight Adams/IndyStar)
Amanda Blackburn was mortally wounded during a home annexation and burglary on Nov. 10, 2015. She was shot in the head according to prosecutors. Amanda was 12 weeks pregnant at that time with the couple’s second child. She died 2 days after the incident with their baby inside her womb. Her husband, Davey Blackburn, returned home to find his gravely wounded wife lying on the floor. At first, he thought something had gone wrong with Amanda’s pregnancy. The couple’s 15-month-old son, their first child Weston, was in his crib upstairs when it all unfolded, but was not harmed.
Three men, Jalen Watson, 21, Larry Taylor, 18 and Diano Gordon, 24, were charged with murder. In October, Watson pleaded guilty to one count of robbery and two counts of burglary. Among the three, it was Watson who entered a plea agreement.
“While I want the full extent of justice for Amanda’s murder levied, I also want each of these men to experience radical heart changes, turn from their previous ways and begin following Jesus,” he wrote. “The justice system may be able to help with behavior modification, but only Jesus can truly change a heart.”
He continued, “I believe the Lord has been working on Jalen’s heart significantly over the last 2 years since Amanda’s death.”
In Blackburn’s recent blog post, he stated his reliance on God for everything that happened. His family and friends were there for that difficult season of his life. And he chose to forgive, especially when he saw one of his former wife’s killers for the first time, Jalen. Blackburn wrote:
“From the moment I sat down, I could feel every muscle fiber in my body begin to tense up. I had to consciously coax my body to relax as I took a couple deep breaths. I finally got my body somewhat regulated when, uncontrollably, it tensed up again. Jalen was turning to look in my direction. He glanced over his right shoulder and made a sweeping pan across the front row of the gallery stopping as soon as he locked eyes with me.
I thought he’d look away quickly, or look down in shame, or something. But he didn’t. He lingered, his gaze locked with mine. I didn’t know what to do. Courtroom ethics prohibit making any kind of gesture whether cordial or offensive. I didn’t know if I should nod or look away or keep staring. As the room began to close in around me I just sat there and stared. I don’t even know what kind of expression I had on my face. I just felt empty, and anxious all at the same time. But, I couldn’t take my eyes off of his. There was something telling in them, something different than I expected. They seemed tired, hurt, broken, and maybe . . . grieved.
Finally it became too much to bear and I broke away, darting my eyes back toward the judge. I thought that would be it, but then he did it again. And again. Each time as he swept the front row of the gallery as if with just his eyes he was telling each of us how sorry he was. I don’t know if I’ll ever know what was (and is currently) going through his mind, but I can’t help but wonder if maybe his heart is softening.”
It’s been two years when the appalling and agonizing incident happened. The process of healing was never easy for the Blackburn family. But with God, they are able to cope up and be there with each other.
Blackburn also revealed that he is now engaged to be married. He described in details how he and Kristi met and how Kristi helped him deal with his wounds.
“I realize for many people this may seem a bit soon and trust me. It did to me as well,” he wrote, before adding that he has loved ones’ support. “Her family, my family and Amanda’s family are all excited about it and give us their blessing.”
You also probably experience something like this before, to lose a loved one. Or lose something that is so important that you think you can’t live without it and you can’t imagine your future without it. You may feel so lost or everything around you is blurry and doesn’t make sense. But it is also the perfect time to trust in the Lord and give Him praise even when you can’t think of anything to be grateful for. Don’t forget that God is a redeemer. He will give you everything back when the right time comes, more than what you imagine. Trust the Father’s heart that everything He will do is for your own good and that He is good even if your situation speaks otherwise. Whatever season you are in right now, surrender it to God!